Amazon may be forced on the defensive following new reports showing that a study conducted by Policy Matters Ohio has discovered as many as 700 of the company's employees within the state are currently receiving food stamps. Amazon is not the only large corporation whose employees are currently enrolled in the state's SNAP program and it isn't likely to be the largest so-called corporate welfare recipient either. The 700 employees in question only represent around 10 percent of its overall employee base in Ohio and are estimated to be predominantly part-time workers from the company's warehouses in the state's capital, though the figure likely includes some full-time workers as well. However, even setting aside those figures, the finding could raise questions about how the technology giant is hiring and whether or not it has put too much of an emphasis on taking on part-time employees. Moreover, it could raise further questions about whether or not it is paying employees enough, in light of the fact that many of its facilities are built using public funding initiatives and tax breaks.
In defense of the firm, an Amazon spokesperson said that its full-time employees start out at between $14.50 and $15 per hour in the state. Beyond that, those employees are afforded regular pay increases, company stock, and performance-based bonuses – in addition to comprehensive health, dental, and vision benefits. Going further still, the spokesperson said that full-time employees receive that coverage from their first day at work and those extend to include "generous" maternity and family leave, tuition for education, and a network of support channels. The spokesperson did not go so far as to address the pay and benefits, if any, offered to the company's part-time employees which are presumed to make up the bulk of SNAP-enrolled Amazon workers in Ohio.
Zach Schiller, research director at Policy Matters, points out that for such a large firm to have so many subsidies and tax incentives provided to it and then not pay employees a living wage can put a strain on the resources of communities Amazon resides in. Meanwhile, the news also isn't likely to be taken lightly by officials in municipalities that have been applying to host new warehouses or a second headquarters for the company.