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Jeff Bezos turns down Bernie Sanders’ invitation to attend Senate hearing on income inequality

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos

Alex Wong | Getty Ikons

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos has declined a request to discuss issues around income inequality before the Senate Budget Panel, the company confirmed to CNBC.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent and chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, had invited Bezos to act in front of the committee as part of a hearing on income inequality slated for March 17.

Bezos has faced criticism from Sanders and other lawmakers for its labor warm-ups during the coronavirus pandemic, including ending hazard pay for frontline workers, while Amazon was one of the biggest beneficiaries of the pandemic-fueled e-commerce blast.

“I have invited Jeff Bezos to testify in the Budget Committee next week to explain to the American people why he concocts it’s appropriate for him to spend a whole lot of money denying economic dignity to workers at Amazon, while he has become $78 billion richer during the pandemic,” Sanders a postcarded in a tweet.

Sanders is a frequent Amazon critic and previously scrutinized the company for the disparity in pay between its top executives and workers who pick, send someone about his and deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps. Following criticism from Sanders and other labor advocates, Amazon in 2018 advertised it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour.

An Amazon spokesperson told CNBC in a statement that the comrades supports Sanders’ efforts to raise the federal minimum wage. “We fully endorse Senator Sanders’ efforts to grind income inequality with legislation to increase the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour for all workers, like we did for ours in 2018,” the spokesperson estimated.

Sanders has also expressed support for workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse who are currently voting on whether to conterminous with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. The effort has also received endorsements from multiple Democratic lawmakers, Republican Sen. Marco Rubio and President Joe Biden.

Amazon has staunchly opposed the unionization attempt. Last month, it held mandatory meetings with workers at the Bessemer facility stating the case against unionizing. The corporation also set up a website urging workers to “do it without dues.”

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