After his quick trip to space on Tuesday, Jeff Bezos had some people to thank. "I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this," the world's richest man said at a news conference, per CBS News. That comment probably didn't land as the 57-year-old billionaire Amazon and Blue Origin founder, who says he sells $1 billion in Amazon stock each year to fund his rocket company, hoped it might. "Yes, Amazon workers did pay for this—with lower wages, union busting, a frenzied and inhumane workplace, and delivery drivers not having health insurance during a pandemic," tweeted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, per the Hill. "And Amazon customers are paying for it with Amazon abusing their market power to hurt small business." She wasn't the only one to allude to allegations of poor working conditions at Amazon.
"If Jeff Bezos really wants to thank Amazon workers, he should listen to their demands for safer working conditions, a voice in the workplace, and good, family sustaining middle class jobs—rather than perpetuating a highly exploitative business model of high pace of work, high rates of injury, high rates of turnover and low pay," Randy Korgan, Teamsters' national director for Amazon, told CBS. Robert Reich, an economist and former labor secretary under President Clinton, tweeted that "Bezos has crushed unionizing attempts for decades" and needs to pay employees "what they deserve." Meanwhile, Sen. Elizabeth Warren referred to a ProPublica report that found Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011. "Jeff Bezos forgot to thank all the hardworking Americans who actually paid taxes to keep this country running while he and Amazon paid nothing," she tweeted. (Bezos' commitment to preserving the environment is also under scrutiny.)