The Amazon vs. Bernie Sanders battle continued Tuesday as the Seattle tech giant fired back again on the topic of worker treatment.
Activists around the world have used this week’s Prime Day as an opportunity to protest and air their grievances against Amazon, turning its two-day sales extravaganza into a flashpoint in the conflict between the company and labor groups.
Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders celebrated the activism Monday, tweeting that he stands in “solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses.”
I stand in solidarity with the courageous Amazon workers engaging in a work stoppage against unconscionable working conditions in their warehouses. It is not too much to ask that a company owned by the wealthiest person in the world treat its workers with dignity and respect. https://t.co/GxagHx70pb
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) July 15, 2019
Sen. Sanders previously criticized Amazon on the same topic in March.
On Tuesday, Sen. Sanders, Rep. Ilhan Omar and 11 other House Democrats signed a letter to the Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, asking the government to investigate Amazon warehouses.
Amazon responded with a blog post Tuesday afternoon, reiterating its invitation to Sanders to visit one of its fulfillment centers. “He committed to visiting, but to date has never stepped foot in one of our buildings,” the company wrote, before defending how it handles safety inside the warehouses.
Amazon also wrote that “if Rep. Omar and Sen. Sanders really want to help the American worker, they should focus on passing legislation that raises the federal minimum wage — $7.25 is too low.”
Amazon’s head of worldwide operations, Dave Clark, reiterated the company’s position in a CNN guest editorial published Tuesday. He too brought up the $15 minimum wage the company began offering last year.
“On Monday, protesters created a lot of noise, calling for benefits Amazon already offers and improved working conditions,” Clark wrote. “But there is a lot of misinformation out there about our working environment, our employer practices and our associates. It is important to emphasize Amazon provides good jobs with a lot of opportunity.”
Sanders this week also called out Facebook for its treatment of cafeteria workers.
Amazon has traditionally kept quiet during controversy, but it has been more vocal as of late, in particular calling out prominent politicians who criticize the company. Clark responded publicly after treatment of Amazon’s warehouse workers got attention on the HBO series “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” earlier this month.
Last week, Amazon embarked on a $700 million effort to retrain its U.S. workforce, in a high-profile acknowledgment of the impact of technology and automation on jobs and the workforce.
Tech companies are also this week answering questions from lawmakers about antitrust issues.