Progressive lawmakers praise Amazon wage hike
Two progressive lawmakers are lauding Amazon’s decision to raise the wage of its lowest-paid employees to $15 an hour following pressure on the company to pay its workers more.
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), who had criticized Amazon for low wages, both praised the company's CEO Jeff Bezos on Tuesday following the announcement.
“I’m very glad that [Bezos] took this action. He deserves a lot of credit,” Khanna told The Hill. "This is going to not just put money in the pocket for Amazon employees, but also set the bar for other retailers to follow.”
Khanna acknowledged that Amazon could still improve in other areas but said that he wants “to give [Bezos] the benefit of the doubt today.”
“What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos' lead,” Sanders wrote in a Tweet.
Both lawmakers had previously criticized the company for low wages, saying employees were forced to rely on government assistance.
Amazon has disputed that its workers needed to participate in federal welfare programs as a result of their salaries.
Sanders and Khanna have said they hope that Bezos's decision will encourage other companies to take similar steps.
Still, Khanna said the progressive lawmakers plan to press ahead on legislation that would penalize companies that pay workers wages low enough that they rely on government welfare programs.
Khanna joked about changing the name of the bill, which was named the "Stop BEZOS Act," to instead focus on the CEO of Walmart or McDonald’s, whose wages he says are still too low.