Amazon fact-checked Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez‘s recent criticism of its labor practices on Monday – and the New York Democrat proved unable to substantively defend herself.
“@AOC is just wrong,” Amazon tweeted Monday in a rare rebuke of a politician. “Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage.”
— Amazon News (@amazonnews) June 17, 2019
The tweet included a video of Ocasio-Cortez attacking Amazon during a Sunday appearance on ABC’s “This Week.”
Asked about her previous remark that an economy with billionaires like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is “immoral, the New York Democrat said, “If his being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access healthcare … and on the fact that his workers take food stamps, so I’m paying for him to be a billionaire, I think it’s certainly a part of the equation.”
She added: “When you have a very large workforce and you underpay every single person and then you also participate in taking billions of dollars of government subsidies, that could be part of it.”
Ocasio-Cortez also said that Amazon and Bezos should pay more in taxes and give up all government subsidies. Amazon workers should have guaranteed healthcare and free college for their children, she declared.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Amazon face off
In a statement to Fox Business on Sunday, an Amazon spokesperson called Ocasio-Cortez’s claims “absurd.”
“These allegations are absurd,” the statement reads. “Amazon associates receive industry-leading pay starting at $15 an hour — in fact, hourly associates at our Staten Island facility earn between $17.30 and $23 an hour, plus benefits which include comprehensive medical, dental, and vision insurance. On top of these benefits, Amazon pre-pays 95% of continuing education tuition costs through its Career Choice program for associates who want to pursue in-demand careers. For anyone who wants to know what it’s like to work in an Amazon fulfillment center, sign up for a tour today.”
On Monday evening, Ocasio-Cortez tried to defend her bluster. In a pair of tweets, she cited a year-old Daily Beast report that said 10 percent of Amazon’s Ohio employees were on food stamps after the company opened fulfillment centers in the state.
“If a person is working 40h/week & is paid so little that they need gov help to make ends meet, it’s not the person that’s a weight on our system – it’s the company,” she said.
However, she failed to address that Amazon said in the article that most of the employees were part-timers. She then returned to grandstanding.
“People need to be paid a living wage. We stand up to co’s that rely on food stamps to make up for their low wages.”
If a person is working 40h/week & is paid so little that they need gov help to make ends meet, it’s not the person that’s a weight on our system – it’s the company.
People need to be paid a living wage. We stand up to co’s that rely on food stamps to make up for their low wages.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) June 18, 2019
And the winner is …
Ocasio-Cortez has been credited with pushing Amazon to last November back out its plan to build a new headquarters in Long Island City, which abuts neighborhoods in her district. She repeatedly railed against giving tax breaks and other incentives to Amazon and then cheered Amazon’s February withdrawal as a victory for democracy.
Measured by public opinion, however, she has apparently emerged as the loser of the showdown.
A Siena College survey released in March revealed that New Yorkers viewed Ocasio-Cortez as the “biggest villain” in the Amazon saga. In another Sienna poll in April, her 14th District constituents agreed with the citywide sentiment, and said she blew it by scuttling the deal. Some 58 percent of registered voters supported the agreement, which would have seen the internet giant create 25,000 news jobs and receive $3 billion in subsidies. Only 33 percent supported Ocasio-Cortez’s position.