- Billionaire Jeff Bezos has snubbed Bernie Sanders’ invite to testify before the Senate on inequality.
- At the hearing, an Amazon employee who is part of a unionization push is scheduled to speak.
- Sanders criticized Bezos for not attending and for trying to prevent workers from unionizing.
- See more stories on Insider’s business page.
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has turned down an opportunity to testify before the Senate Budget Committee on Wednesday, according to CNN.
The world’s richest person declined an invite from Sen. Bernie Sanders to speak at a hearing on wealth and income inequality, a spokesperson for Sanders told the media outlet.
An Amazon representative said that while Bezos is unavailable to appear before the committee, he supports Sanders’ efforts to address inequality.
“We fully endorse Senator Sanders’ efforts to reduce income inequality with legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers, like we did for ours in 2018,” the spokesperson told CNN.
Sanders responded to the invite snub on Twitter. “It’s unfortunate Mr. Bezos won’t join our hearing,” he wrote. “While he’s become $78 billion richer during the pandemic, families are struggling to survive, so why is he spending a whole lot of money to stop workers from organizing a union at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama?”
At the hearing, Amazon employee Jennifer Bates will speak. She is part of an effort to form a union at one of the company’s warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama.
If workers at the warehouse vote in favor of unionization, this would be the first Amazon workers’ union in the US.
Amazon has aggressively targeted workers and encouraged them to vote against unionizing, Insider’s Isobel Asher Hamilton previously reported. Banners and fliers have been put up in bathrooms and anti-union adverts on Twitch were published, Asher Hamilton reported.
“What you are seeing right now in Bessemer is an example of the richest person in this country spending a whole lot of money to make it harder for ordinary working people to live with dignity and safety,” Sanders told The Washington Post.
Sanders has a history of criticizing Bezos, who is worth over $180 billion. Before the news that the billionaire would not testify, Sanders told CNN that he is “in many respects emblematic of the unfettered capitalism that we are seeing in America today.”
In 2018, Sanders pressured the Amazon boss to raise the company’s minimum wage. He introduced a bill called Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies, or “Stop BEZOS.” Amazon responded by raising its minimum wage in October 2018.
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