Amazon Pay Raise to $15/Hour Will Benefit 350,000 Employees
After intense scrutiny over Amazon pay rates and worker treatment, is Amazon’s new minimum wage hike a PR move or a sign of a company cultural shift?
Effective next month, all Amazon employees in the United States will earn no less than $15 an hour, the company announced on Tuesday. Full-time staff, part-time staff and temporary staff totaling more than 250,000 employees will benefit from the Amazon pay increase. Another 100,000 seasonal employees will also benefit from the raise.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Some employees already earn $15 per hour, they will also reportedly see a wage increase.
CEO Jeff Bezos had been under intense criticism for the company’s low wages and pay disparity across the U.S. and beyond. Amazon pay rates and treatment of workers were seen as severe and in stark contrast to the wealth of Amazon’s founder. The average Amazon worker earned below $28,500 in 2017. Bezos, on the other hand, is the richest man in the world and worth an estimated $168 billion.
Senator Bernie Sanders in September sponsored a bill which aims to tax corporations for every dollar of benefits their employees receive in government assistance like food stamps and healthcare benefits. The legislation is known as the Bezos Act.
Senator Sanders applauded the Amazon pay increase.
“Today I want to give credit where credit is due,” Sanders said. “What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be, and I think it will be, a shot heard around the world.”
Will the Amazon pay raise kick off a push for raising the federal minimum wage?
Sanders joined Amazon to encourage other major retailers to raise minimum wages for their workers. Amazon also promised to lobby the U.S. government to increase the federal minimum wage.
“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs. “We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.”
Amazon competitors Target and Walmart have also promised to look into raising their employees’ minimum wages. Walmart said it will raise wages to $11 in January and Target said it will raise it to $15 by 2020.
The wage increase is not only happening in the U.S., it will also be coming up in the UK. Amazon workers in London will have their minimum wage raised to £10.50 ($13.61) and those in other parts of the country upped to £9.50 ($12.31).