Bernie Sanders, Ro Khanna introduce Stop BEZOS Act

Bernie Sanders

Bernie Sanders on Wednesday introduced a bill to "get billionaires off welfare".

Senator Sanders, along with Representative Ro Khanna, introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies, or "Stop BEZOS" bill on Wednesday.

Sanders said his office had heard from "many hundreds" of current and former Amazon workers who have had to rely on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, Medicaid and other government programs to cover their families' basic needs.

The proposed bill would target companies with 500 or more employees, including some of America's largest corporations such as Amazon, Apple and Walmart.

The act is aimed at shaming companies like Amazon, Walmart and United Airlines who, despite being such large corporations, practically force their employees to depend on public assistance.

"I think it is fair to say the American people are exhausted of having to subsidize the wealthiest people in this country who are paying wages that are just so low that people can't get by", Sanders said at a press conference.

In addition, Amazon workers' median annual salary previous year was $28,446, but this figure includes both full and part-time employees. The only publicly-traded company in the US valued higher is Apple, according to the Post.

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So Sanders planned to introduce legislation after Labor Day that would tax large employers dollar-for-dollar for the public assistance used by their employees. Another is that employers would discriminate against hiring those who they think might trigger the tax.

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". Sanders' bill isn't likely to progress in the current political climate but it does bring added attention to warehouse worker conditions, which have come under scrutiny in recent months.

For example, if an employee receives $1,000 in federal assistance, the employer will be charged that amount as a tax.

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.

"They could face "statistical discrimination" at work and if therefore it's harder for them to find a job, they risk not meeting a work requirement and losing the benefit that they very much need", he said.

While Sanders has long advocated for strengthening worker protections, including an increase in the minimum wage, Bernstein said the Stop BEZOS Act could end up being counterproductive to that cause.

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