Yesterday, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) introduced a bill named, Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act. This bill states that huge companies such as Amazon and Walmart need to pay their employees a living wage. Else, they will have to pay to match the public assistance programs that their low-wage workers are forced to rely upon.
According to a study from the University of California, Berkeley Labor Center, low wages cost taxpayers about $150 billion per year. Sanders in his announcement said:
“Let us be very clear: We believe that the government has a moral responsibility to provide for the vulnerable – the children, the elderly, the sick and the disabled. But we do not believe that taxpayers should have to expend huge sums of money subsidizing profitable corporations owned by some of the wealthiest people in this country. That’s what a rigged economy is about.”
The bill highlighted many top companies who are making huge profits but not paying their employees enough:
- Wages paid to Walmart’s associates are so low that they have to live on benefits costing U.S. taxpayers of an estimated $6.2 billion a year.
- 52 percent of all fast food workers rely upon public assistance programs to survive and low wages at McDonald’s alone cost the federal government and U.S. taxpayers over $1.2 billion a year.
- 1 out 3 Amazon workers in Arizona and 2,400 in Pennsylvania and Ohio depend on food stamps as per The New Food Economy.
This bill aims to solve this by employing a corporate welfare tax on large companies equal to the amount of benefits received by their low wage employees. It also makes asking employees whether or not they qualify for federal benefits unlawful for a large employer. Under this legislation, companies with more than 500 employees are considered large companies. Federal benefits include Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Medicaid, the school lunch program and Section 8 housing.
Sanders and Amazon were having a back and forth argument from several months. Last week, Sanders issued a form for the current and former employees of Amazon to collect information regarding their working environment with the aim of issuing this legislation and finally, he has now taken a step forward.
To know more on the BEZOS Act, check out Sanders’ official website.