Amazon Raises Minimum Wage to $15 for Entire U.S. Workforce
Following mounting political and public pressure, Amazon announced a major shift in how it pays employees. In a press release published Tuesday morning, the company said it was raising its minimum wage to $15 across the board for all U.S. employees, including full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees. The decision will impact some 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites during the holiday season, the company said.
The decision to set a “living wage” minimum wage came after weeks (if not years, really) of criticism the company has received over how much it pays employees. Last month, that pressure turned political when U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a tax bill that would require businesses with more than 500 employees to pay a 100 percent tax on federal assistance received by their employees. A Washington Post report at the time that bill was announced found that “thousands” of Amazon employees rely on the federal government’s Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP) in order to make ends meet.
In presenting the bill, Sanders said his goal was twofold: to force large corporation like Amazon to pay a living wage and to curb some $150 billion per year in taxpayer dollars that are spent on federal assistance programs for low-wage workers.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder and CEO, said in a statement announcing the new wage policy. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Beyond simply making the switch to a $15 minimum wage, Amazon said it would look to become a vocal advocate for increasing the federal minimum wage, essentially flipping the script on government.
“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,” Jay Carney, Senior Vice President of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs, said in the 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.”
The $15 minimum wage policy will also trickle down to other Amazon subsidiaries, including Whole Foods employees, the company said. Other company benefits including healthcare, 20-weeks paid parental leave, 401k matching, tuition coverage, and career skills training, will remain intact.
Amazon’s new minimum wage policy is set to take effect starting November 1.