Bezos's comments on workers after spaceflight draws rebuke
NEW YORK (AP) — The world's richest man wanted to say thanks to the people who made his brief trip into space Tuesday possible.
But for some, Amazon founder Jeff Bezos' expression of gratitude went over like a lead rocket.
“I want to thank every Amazon employee, and every Amazon customer because you guys paid for all this,” the 57-year-old Bezos said during a news conference Tuesday after becoming the second billionaire in just over a week to ride in his own spacecraft.
Bezos built Amazon into a shopping and entertainment behemoth but has faced increasing activism within his own workforce and stepped up pressure from critics to improve working conditions.
Labor groups and Amazon workers have claimed that the company offers its hourly employees not enough break times, puts too much reliance on rigid productivity metrics and has unsafe working conditions. An effort to unionize workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama failed earlier this year.
Robert Reich, former secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton and a professor of public policy at University of California, Berkeley, wrote on Twitter that Bezos has crushed unionizing attempts for decades.
“Amazon workers don’t need Bezos to thank them. They need him to stop union busting — and pay them what they deserve," Reich wrote.
Bezos stepped down as Amazon CEO in July, allowing him more time for side projects including his space exploration company Blue Origin. He has said he finances the rocket company by selling $1 billion in Amazon stock each year.
After the spaceflight, Bezos awarded $100 million donations to both D.C. chef Jose Andres and CNN contributor Van Jones to put towards any charity or nonprofit of their choice.
Nevertheless, Rep Earl Blumenauer, who is on the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee,...