(CNSNews.com) – Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.J.) in an interview on ABC’s “This Week with George Stephanopolous” accused Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos of being a billionaire because he pays his employees “starvation wages” and takes government subsidies.
“First, you have suggested that an economic system that has billionaires is immoral. So let me just ask you, if you had a true progressive program put in place, would Jeff Bezos still be a billionaire five, 10 years from now?” ABC’s Jonathan Karl asked.
“I think I spend less time thinking about thinking Jeff Bezos and I think more time thinking about Amazon warehouse workers. I think about the outcomes that I want for those folks. So whether Jeff Bezos is a billionaire or not is less of my concern than if your average Amazon worker is making a living wage, if they have guaranteed health care and if they can send their kids to college tuition-free,” she said.
“And if that's the case and Jeff Bezos is still a billionaire, that's one thing. But if his being a billionaire is predicated on paying people starvation wages and stripping them of their ability to access health care, and also if his ability to be a billionaire is predicated on the fact that his workers take food stamps, so I'm paying for him to be a billionaire –“ Ocasio-Cortez said.
“And do you think that's why he's a billionaire, because he pays his workers starvation wages and --” ABC’s Jonathan Karl interjected.
“I think it's certainly a part of the equation when you have a very large work force and you underpay every single person and then you also participate in -- you know, in taking billions of dollars of government subsidies, I think that that's -- that could be part of it,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“But, if he's willing to give up all of his government subsidies, if we're willing to charge fair taxes, if we're willing to pay people living wage, send people to college tuition-free, guarantee everyone health care and he's still a billionaire, then, well, that's a fight we can have another day,” she said.
“@AOC is just wrong. Amazon is a leader on pay at $15 min wage + full benefits from day one. We also lobby to raise federal min wage,” Amazon tweeted Monday in response to Ocasio-Cortez’s comments.
Amazon workers had been paid a starting minimum wage of $11 an hour, while its average wage for full-time workers at fulfillment centers is more than $15 an hour, The New York Times reported on Oct. 2, 2018.
The company announced at the time that it would raise the minimum wage for its part-time employees and workers hired through temporary agencies to $15 an hour. Workers who currently make $15 an hour are also expected to get an increase.
According to Amazon, the median pay for full-time employees is $34,123 – more than $10,000 below the median wage for U.S. workers. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the median pay for U.S. workers is $47,060 yearly or $905 a week.