Bernie Sanders wants big corporations, not taxpayers, to pay for employee welfare

Sanders made the bill personal with the not so subtle dig by naming the bill acronym after Amazon boss Jeff Bezos

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a frequent critic of, introduced a bill Wednesday that would tax employers if their workers required public assistance‚ naming it the Stop BEZOS Act.

Sanders, who over the past few months has criticized the gulf in wealth between the online retailer's CEO Jeff Bezos and its warehouse workers, took to Twitter to speak out against Amazon crossing the threshold. It said that Sanders' references to Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program recipients are misleading, because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or chose to work part-time - both of these groups would qualify for federal assistance. Anecdotes shared by current and former Amazon employees corroborate these findings.

The bill would impose a 100% tax on corporations with 500 or more employees equal to the amount of money their employees receive in federal benefits such as food stamps or subsidised housing. Sanders stated that thousands were forced to rely on food stamps and subsidized housing.

"In other words, the taxpayers of this country would no longer be subsidizing the wealthiest people in this country who are paying their workers inadequate wages", Sanders said during a press conference about the bill. "Senator Sanders" references to SNAP, which hasn't been called "food stamps' for several years, are also misleading because they include people who only worked for Amazon for a short period of time and/or chose to work part-time - both of these groups would nearly certainly qualify for SNAP". While incentivizing companies to pay their employees higher wages, the measure would shift the burden from taxpayers back to the companies, he said. Rep. Ro Khanna, a California Democrat, introduced a House version of the same bill named the Corporate Responsibility and Taxpayer Protection Act.

Sanders' office pointed out a report by the New Food Economy, which found 1 out of 3 Amazon workers in Arizona and about 2,400 employees in Pennsylvania and OH receive food stamps.

Some economists questioned whether the "Stop BEZOS Act" will have the desired effect, noting that it could encourage large companies to avoid hiring workers deemed likely to collect federal benefits.

The National Council for Occupational Safety and Health (National COSH) stated previously that "Amazon workers suffer injuries, and sometimes lost their lives, in a work environment with a relentless demand to fill orders and close monitoring of employee actions". In video interviews posted on Sanders' Facebook page, workers at several levels of Amazon described highly surveilled work environments, where bathroom breaks are closely monitored and there's extreme pressure to meet goals that may be unattainable.

The company highlighted that its average hourly wage for a full-time fulfillment center employee is more than $15 an hour, including cash, stock and incentive bonuses, but before overtime.

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