Amazon ups minimum wage to $15 for all full, part-time and seasonal employees
Amazon is making another major delivery, this time for its employees: a $15 hourly minimum wage.
The e-tailing giant said Tuesday it would increase its minimum wage Nov. 1 to $15 for all U.S. full-time, part-time, seasonal and temporary employees, including temps hired by agencies.
Amazon currently has more than 250,000 Amazon employees, and plans to hire more than 100,000 seasonal employees this holiday season.
The company had recently been the target of criticism from Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vermont, who said Amazon doesn’t pay its lower-level employees a fair wage.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon CEO and founder Jeff Bezos in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Amazon also said it would begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is currently $7.25.
“The current rate … was set nearly a decade ago,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, said in a statement. “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.”
Earlier this year, Target increased its minimum wage for employees to $12, with plans to raise it to $15 by 2020. Walmart increased its minimum wage for employees to $11; many other companies also raised wages or gave bonuses to employees after the passage of the tax reform bill late last year.
A campaign to raise the minimum wage to $15 has been fought for in several cities states, and Massachusetts passed a bill to hit that mark by 2023.
The minimum wage hike at Amazon comes as it is searching for a home for its second U.S. headquarters, which will employ as many as 50,000 people.
The company has a history of complaints about grueling workplace conditions and lower wages, and has had to deal with lawsuits, picketing and issues with management tactics.
In August, Sanders blasted Amazon, saying its workers were forced to rely on government programs for subsistence. “Bottom line: the taxpayers of this country should not have to subsidize employees at a company owned by Mr. Bezos, who is worth $155 billion. That is absurd,” Sanders said.
The company challenged Sanders calling his accusations “misleading.”
In a 2015 article in The New York Times, employees described a “soulless, dystopian” work environment of long hours and and a lack of empathy for employees’ health-related issues. At the time, Bezos said the story “doesn’t describe the Amazon I know.”
In a memo to employees, he promised to address the situation. “Even if it’s rare or isolated, our tolerance for any such lack of empathy needs to be zero,” he wrote.
Amazon employee benefits also include healthcare coverage (including medical, dental and vision), up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave, matching 401K retirement plan, tuition assistance for courses “in high-demand fields,” and other career training.
Follow USA TODAY reporter Mike Snider on Twitter: @MikeSnider.
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