Amazon pushes back against Sanders attacks

Amazon pushes back against Sanders attacks
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Amazon is pushing back against Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersFive takeaways from Cruz, O'Rourke's fiery first debate Ben & Jerry’s co-founders announce effort to help 7 Dem House challengers Dems look to Gillum, Abrams for pathway to victory in tough states MORE’s (I-Vt.) attacks on how the company treats its workers.

The Vermont senator has said that he wants a special tax on Amazon and other big companies whose employees collect food stamps benefits or are on other social welfare programs. 

The e-commerce behemoth says it believes that it should not be lumped into such a group, arguing on Wednesday that it offers competitive pay and benefits to workers. 

On Tuesday, Sanders invited Amazon employees to share their experiences working for the online retail giant. 

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Amazon said that it has spoken with Sanders about potentially visiting one of their distribution centers.

In a video titled "Get Amazon Off of Corporate Welfare" Sanders points out that CEO Jeff Bezos earns $260 million a day as the world’s richest person while many of his employees have to use food stamps to meet their basic needs.

“Frankly, I don’t believe that ordinary Americans should be subsidizing the wealthiest people in the world because they pay their employees inadequate wages,” Sanders said.

Amazon retorted that Sanders was incorrect in descriptions of Amazon’s pay and benefits, calling his remarks “misleading.”

“In addition to highly competitive wages and a climate controlled, safe workplace, Amazon provides employees with a comprehensive benefit package including health insurance, disability insurance, retirement savings plans, and company stock,” the company said.

Sanders responded to Amazon in a statement on Wednesday, blasting the company over its hiring practices and pay for workers.

“Amazon has been less than forthcoming with information about their employment practices," he said. "What we do know is that Amazon’s median employee pay is only $28,446 — 9 percent less than the industry average and well below what constitutes a living wage in the United States. Further, we believe that many of Amazon’s workers are employed by temporary staffing agencies and contractors and make even less than the median Amazon employee."

Sanders also shared on his site some responses he's received from Amazon employees from around the country testifying to the low pay they receive and their dismal working conditions. He said that Amazon could not accommodate him when he tried to visit a fulfillment center in Wisconsin last month, but that he intends to visit one in Chester, Va., in September.

"Bottom line: No one working for the wealthiest person on Earth should have to rely on food stamps," Sanders wrote in a tweet.

In its statement, Amazon included a letter from an employee, lauding the company as a place to work. 

"Amazon has been a great working environment for me, has allowed me to have an impact in my associates’ lives by providing guidance through events like Resume Workshops, and has provided me great perspective on how to effectively lead people," wrote an Operations Manager, identified only by his first name, Derrick. 

The letter is a part of a new public relations offensive that Amazon appears to have launched in recent weeks. 

The new push showcases employees speaking about their positive experiences working for the company.

Amazon has launched a Twitter campaign with ambassadors from its distributions centers who tweet about how much they enjoy working at Amazon.

The company’s labor conditions, particularly in its distribution centers — which it calls “fulfillment centers” — have also faced recent scrutiny following widespread reports of workers enduring harsh conditions, sometimes for low pay.

Updated: 5:30 p.m.