Amazon union push gains momentum across the US
Amazon employees at an Alabama warehouse continue to battle with the company over unionizing.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren traded barbs with Amazon in a fiery Twitter exchange after she accused the e-commerce behemoth of exploiting loopholes and havens to avoid paying its "fair share" in taxes.
Warren uploaded a clip of herself speaking during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Thursday, during which she accused corporations of "manipulating the tax code" to reduce their liability.
Although the corporate tax rate sat at 21% between 2018 and 2020, Amazon paid an actual tax rate of about 4.5% on its more than $40 billion in profit, according to Kimberly Clausing, the Treasury Department's deputy assistant secretary of tax analysis. Warren said the company used "loopholes and tax shelters" to drive down their liability.
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Amazon quickly fired back after Warren posted the video, noting that it had paid "billions of dollars in corporate taxes" over the last few years alone.
"You make the tax laws @SenWarren; we just follow them," the company tweeted. "If you don’t like the laws you’ve created, by all means, change them."
Warren responded that she didn't write the "loopholes you exploit, your armies of lawyers and lobbyists did. But 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."
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At the end of February, Warren unveiled a wealth tax proposal that would impose a 2% annual tax on the net worth of U.S. households $50 million and above, and would add an additional 1% levy on fortunes exceeding $1 billion. It's nearly identical to the wealth tax that she introduced during her failed 2020 presidential campaign.
Under the policy, Bezos, the richest person in the world, would pay an additional $5.43 billion in taxes if President Biden signed the legislation into law, according to an updated wealth tax calculator released by Warren.
She also said on Thursday that she plans to introduce legislation that would tax book profits for the nation's most profitable companies.
Warren is among several Democratic lawmakers, including Sen. Bernie Sanders, to clash with the online retailer in recent days as thousands of Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, vote on whether to form a union. The voting, which began in mid-February, ends Monday. It could become the first Amazon warehouse union in the U.S. if a majority of the 5,800 workers vote "yes" to unionize.
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Jeff Bezos' company — whose profits have surged during the coronavirus pandemic — has said that organizers don't represent the majority of employees' views and that it already offers what unions want, including pay that starts at $15 an hour.
Labor membership has seen a steady, decades-long decline; just a little more than 10% of workers were represented by unions last year, according to Labor Department data, a decline of nearly 50% from 1983.
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