Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman got into a word scuffle with Lisa McCormick on Twitter today over the federal minimum wage law and congressional inaction on measures to provide job security, paid sick time and other benefits.
The incumbent invited McCormick’s response after the politician posted complaints about Amazon’s decision to end hourly wage increases and double overtime pay for warehouse workers after May 31.
McCormick is challenging Watson Coleman for Congress in New Jersey’s 12th District in the Democratic primary election, which runs from Trenton, through Princeton, to Plainfield and Old Bridge.
The incumbent described a decision to end temporary bonuses for workers as “Atrocious greed” but the challenger called her to account for inaction by Congress, which has the power to set tax and minimum wage laws, as well as legislation requiring employers to provide sick time.
“Jeff Bezos is expected to become the 1st trillionaire as he consolidates the retail market during coronavirus,” tweeted Watson Coleman. “Now Amazon is telling its workers (who have faced significant risk) that it’ll be ending their hazard pay at the end of MAY!”
“@JeffBezos did not pass tax laws, minimum wage legislation or requiring employers to provide sick time,” replied McCormick, who added: “That’s Congresswoman Bonnie Watson Coleman’s job.”
“@Amazon should do better for workers but government has power to compel business, so why complain about your own inaction?,” McCormick asked in her reply tweet.
“Entry level positions at Amazon pay $8 per hour over the federal minimum wage, so while it is understandable that workers are demanding more from the company, it is arrogance and hypocrisy for a member of Congress with power to do something about it level accusations like someone on the sidelines,” said McCormick, explaining her remarks to the complaining Congresswoman.
Although she wants Amazon employees and all U.S. workers to get a better deal, McCormick said, “There are some things that make Amazon an American success story. Jeff Bezos started the company in Washington State in 1994, operating out of the garage of his house. In 2011, Amazon had a full-time staff of 30,000 in the United States, and by the end of 2016, it had 180,000 employees.”
“Criticism from Senator Bernie Sanders and others prompted Amazon to raise its minimum wage for all U.S. and U.K. employees to $15 an hour beginning November 1, 2018,” said McCormick. “The federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour and it has not been increased since July 24, 2009, even though Bonnie Watson Coleman got elected to Congress in 2014.”
“Bonnie Watson Coleman has not increased our federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour and she has not created any jobs that pay $15 an hour, so I would like to know where she gets the nerve to accuse anyone of “Atrocious greed” while she collects a $174,000 paycheck and allows President Donald Trump to control a $6 trillion slush fund at taxpayer expense.”
“Meanwhile, my federal income tax bill was $137 million larger than that of Amazon, because the technology giant paid zero and got a big refund despite its billions of profit,” said McCormick. “That is not Jeff Bezos’ fault because Bonnie Watson Coleman is the one writing tax laws in Congress.”
Amazon actually got a federal tax refund of $129 million last year, despite the fact that the company made $11.2 billion in profit.
“If you paid the $119 annual fee to become an Amazon Prime member, you paid more to Amazon than it paid in taxes,: said Senator Bernie Sanders in a Feb 14, 2019 tweet. “Our job: Repeal all of the Trump tax breaks for the top 1% and large corporations and demand that they pay their fair share in taxes. “
McCormick supported Sanders in the 2016 and 2020 presidential nominating contests, while Watson Coleman was in line with the state’s political bosses backing Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden, respectively.