A Democratic congressman from California is warning Silicon Valley tech firms that they will soon face a “populist backlash” if they continue to burden the American taxpayer with labor costs and social programs.
Rep. Ro Khanna, a Democrat who represents California’s 17th Congressional District in the San Jose area., told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that the greediness of billion-dollar tech companies results in added costs for taxpayers that many Americans don’t even realize.
“The digital revolution is creating an extraordinary kind of wealth,” Khanna told host Tucker Carlson about the tech companies. “They can afford to make sure that there’s a middle class and I think it’s almost ridiculous for these people not see the divide and how they’re contributing to the divide.”
Khanna specifically mentioned Instacart, a grocery delivery company that has come under fire for cutting labor costs by counting its drivers’ tips as part of their salary. He said the employees are paid $10 per delivery but the tips earned are first put toward that base salary.
“It’s outrageous,” Khanna said. “It’s a $7 billion company, they’re going IPO [initial public offering] and they’re basically having wage theft. They’re stealing the tips that should go to the employees to lower their base pay.”
Khanna, who uses the website himself, said that the default tip is set at 5 percent.
“Who tips 5 percent?,” he said. “They actually have a lower default tip because they don’t want to make it seem like customers should pay more and then if you do pay more, they’re taking that tip away. It’s just a scam.”
Companies all across the tech industry are shifting the burden of labor costs to taxpayers with policies similar to Instacart’s, Khanna said. In many cases, the employees’ earnings cannot meet the basic cost for living, thus requiring taxpayers to pay the difference by funding social programs such as food stamps and health care.
Khanna pointed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who was criticized for not paying his employees a $15 minimum wage. He said it was only through legislation, the Jeff Bezos Act, that the CEO increased his company’s minimum wage to $15 an hour.
“If you want to make sure we have a unified country then do some basic things. First of all, make sure everyone is participating in the benefits of technology, not that all the wealth is just going to very, very few individuals.”
Khanna also slammed tech companies for outsourcing approximately 200,000 tech jobs as opposed to hiring Americans in rural communities.
“If you want to prevent a populous backlash in this country to what’s happening,” he said, “you need to be forward-looking.”