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An Amazon worker says she's homeless because she can't afford NYC rent with the $19 she's paid per hour: Report

Jun 19, 2021, 05:23 IST
Business Insider
Helen H. Richardson/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images
  • Amazon has touted its $15 minimum wage and pushed for increases at the national level.
  • But Vice reported that a worker in New York City making $19.30 per hour still can't afford rent.
  • The woman says she lives in her car in the company's parking lot and struggles to make ends meet.

An Amazon employee who works at the company's warehouse on Staten Island in New York City says she lives in her car in the building's parking lot because she can't afford rent in the city with the $19.30 she makes per hour, Vice News reported Friday.

The woman, Natalie Monarrez, has been homeless since 2019 after struggling to find affordable permanent housing while working for two other Amazon warehouses in New Jersey that paid her even less, according to Vice.

"Jeff Bezos donates to homeless shelters for tax write-offs and PR. He needs to know that some of his own workers (without family or a second income) can't afford rent," Monarrez told Vice.

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"Jeff Bezos has no idea that his workers are homeless, especially in New York, and I'm not the only one. I'm hoping executives will agree to pay workers more and that they know older workers have the right to be promoted like everyone else," she added.

While rents in New York City have fallen about 12 percent since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, it remains one of the most expensive places to live in the country. The median asking rent for a one bedroom in New York City in June was about $2500, according to a Zumper analysis.

Amazon did not respond to Insider's request for comment on this story.

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Amazon has frequently touted its $15 per hour minimum wage, which it introduced in 2018 following pressure from Sen. Bernie Sanders, as evidence that it treats workers well.

But Bloomberg reported in December that in 68 counties where Amazon opened its largest type of warehouse, average industry pay dropped by 6%, and that a study from the Government Accountability Office found that more than 4,000 Amazon employees are on food stamps in just nine states - trailing only Walmart, McDonald's, and two-dollar store chains. Amazon disputed Bloomberg's analysis, telling the publication that most of its hires come from retail jobs that typically pay less than warehouse jobs.

Amazon has also avoided paying taxes that fund food stamps and other social safety net programs from which its workers benefit.

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Despite earning more than $10 billion in annual net income every year since 2018, Amazon paid little or no federal income taxes in those years. Amazon previously told Insider that it "pays all the taxes we are required to pay in the US and every country where we operate."

CEO Jeff Bezos, despite growing his wealth by $127 billion from 2006 to 2018, paid zero federal income taxes in at least two of those years, ProPublica reported.

Amazon has also been plagued by extensive reports over the years of grueling working conditions, injury rates far higher than the industry standard, and labor law violations.

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In April, Bezos said that the company was working "to do a better job for our employees" and that it would invest over $300 million in 2021 to make warehouses safer. He added that the company needed "a better vision for how we create value for employees - a vision for their success.

Last year, workers spoke out repeatedly about what they said was Amazon's failure to protect them during the pandemic - and in some cases, faced racially-charged smear campaigns as well as illegal retaliation and terminations.

Following an unsuccessful attempt by Amazon workers in Alabama to unionize, workers at Monarrez's warehouse, which Amazon calls JFK8, have also sought to unionize, led by Chris Smalls, an organizer the company fired in March 2020.

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