Amazon‘s consumer boss took a swipe at Sen. Bernie Sanders for planning a visit to Alabama, where a historic union election is currently underway at one of the company’s warehouses.
Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon’s worldwide consumer business, fired off a series of tweets late Wednesday and Thursday morning, defending the company’s labor practices and taking jabs at the independent senator from Vermont over the debate around raising the federal minimum wage.
On Friday, Sanders, rapper Killer Mike and actor Danny Glover are set to meet with Bessemer, Alabama Amazon workers who are in the process of voting whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). The meeting will take place at a RWDSU union hall in Birmingham, Alabama. Workers began voting by mail on Feb. 8 and ballots are due by Monday. Counting will begin the following day.
“I welcome [Sanders] to Birmingham and appreciate his push for a progressive workplace,” Clark wrote in a tweet on Wednesday. “I often say we are the Bernie Sanders of employers, but that’s not quite right because we actually deliver a progressive workplace.”
Clark then doubled down on Thursday, arguing that the minimum wage in Sanders’ home state of Vermont is $11.75 an hour, while starting pay for Amazon workers is $15 per hour.
Amazon and some of its executives have previously taken jabs at Sanders, who is a frequent Amazon critic. Following criticism from Sanders and other labor advocates, Amazon in 2018 announced it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.
Additionally, last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos turned down an invitation from Sanders to appear in front of the Senate Budget Committee for a hearing on income inequality. Sanders, who is chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, also invited Jennifer Bates, a worker from the Bessemer warehouse where the union election is taking place, to testify.
Amazon has played defense as support for the union drive has ramped up from President Joe Biden and lawmakers on both sides of the aisle. In recent weeks, the company has frequently responded to critics of its labor practices on Twitter and it has promoted its $15-an-hour minimum wage in print and digital ads.
Labor leaders and lawmakers have seized on the election for its potential to kickstart similar movements at other companies and in other industries. Some Amazon employees in other corners of the country are hoping that the union drive will be successful so that they can ignite support to organize their own workplaces.
Amazon has previously said it respects workers’ right to join a union, but also that its workers don’t need a union to come between them and the company. It has held mandatory meetings with workers stating the case against unionizing and set up a website urging workers to “do it without dues.”
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