U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders is taking his criticism of Jeff Bezos and Amazon to Congress.
The Vermont independent introduced a new bill on Wednesday that would tax businesses whose low-wage employees rely on federal benefits. Called the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies Act, or Stop BEZOS Act, the tax would apply only to companies with 500 or more employees. Businesses would be taxed an amount equal to the federal benefits received by their workers, including both full-time and part-time employees.
During a press conference announcing the bill, Sanders noted that many large corporations--not just Amazon--employ workers who rely on federal assistance to make ends meet, including Walmart and McDonald's. He cited a 2013 study from the University of California, Berkeley, that found that 52 percent of all fast food workers receive federal benefits.
"Our legislation gives large, profitable employers a choice," Sanders said. "Pay workers a living wage or pay for the public assistance programs their low-wage employees are forced to depend upon." Amazon declined to comment.
For months, Sanders has been calling out the wage disparity between Jeff Bezos, the richest man in the world, and Amazon's warehouse employees, some of whom have been found to rely on food stamps. Amazon has denied his claims vigorously, calling them "inaccurate and misleading," and maintaining that it offers competitive pay and a diverse range of benefits. It has also extended an invitation to Sanders and his team to tour a fulfillment center to observe the company's working conditions.