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Amazon picks Twitter fight with Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren amid union campaign

Labor showdown between Amazon, Alabama workers
Amazon employees in Alabama vote on joining union after sharing work conditions concerns 03:56

Amazon is going on the offensive against prominent lawmakers amid the most significant union campaign in the history of the online retailer. Amazon's official PR Twitter account, @amazonnews, on Friday slammed senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren for their ongoing criticism of the ecommerce company.

"There's a big difference between talk and action," Amazon tweeted. "@SenSanders has been a powerful politician in Vermont for 30 years and their min wage is still $11.75. Amazon's is $15, plus great health care from day one. Sanders would rather talk in Alabama than act in Vermont."

Amazon also retweeted a comment by Dave Clark, the company's worldwide consumer CEO, who said Sanders "should save his finger wagging lecture until after he actually delivers in his own backyard."

Sanders, an independent in Congress who often allies with Democrats, was in Bessemer, Alabama, Friday to lend support to Amazon workers rallying for the right to join a union. Employees at the plant are now casting their votes in the mail-in election, with voting ending on March 29.

At the rally, Sanders directly addressed Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, accusing the world's wealthiest man of being out of touch with his workers.

"Why, when you have so much money — more money than can be spent in a million lifetimes — why are you spending millions trying to defeat an effort on the part of workers here who want nothing more than decent wages, decent benefits, decent working conditions?" Sanders said.

Amazon on Friday also tangled with Senator Elizabeth Warren, a Massachusetts Democrat who earlier this week accused the company of exploiting tax loopholes.

Amazon shot back: "You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them. If you don't like the laws you've created, by all means, change them."

Warren replied: "I didn't write the loopholes you exploit — your armies of lawyers and lobbyists did." She added, "You bet I'll fight to make you pay your fair share. And fight your union-busting. And fight to break up Big Tech so you're not powerful enough to heckle senators with snotty tweets."

Amazon responded by characterizing Warren's comments as a personal attack on the company. "This is extraordinary and revealing. One of the most powerful politicians in the United States just said she's going to break up an American company so that they can't criticize her anymore."

Amazon has told federal regulators it paid $1.8 billion in federal taxes in 2020 — that's 15 times the tax it paid the two previous years and about 8% of the $22 billion profit the company booked last year.

The company is also tussling with other members of Congress. Mark Pocan, who represents Wisconsin's second district, tweeted at Amazon this week that a $15 wage alone didn't make it a good workplace "when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles." 

Pocan was referencing widely reported accounts of Amazon drivers and warehouse workers having so little time for breaks that they were forced to relieve themselves in empty bottles or in public. 

Amazon denied the charge: "You don't really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us," the company tweeted.

Users on Twitter responded with news accounts of Amazon workers complaining about inhumane working conditions. Even representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez weighed in. The House member from New York tweeted a screenshot of an email in which an Amazon manager complained about "bottles of urine" left inside delivery vans. 

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