Online retailing giant Amazon announced they would implementing a $15 per hour minimum wage for their employees starting 1 November 2018, as the company faced intense scrutiny over reports of low pay and poor working conditions -- even as CEO Jeff Bezos bypassed Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates as the richest person in the world.
The wage move will include more than "250,000 Amazon employees, as well as more than "100,000 seasonal holiday employees," according to a company statement. In making the announcement, Amazon also advocated for raising the federal minimum wage, with senior vice president of global corporate affairs Jay Carney saying: “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 had been the focus of criticism by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont), who went so far as to introduce a bill titled "Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS)." But Sanders praised the Seattle-based company for taking steps to improve working conditions, saying that "I applaud Jeff Bezos today for raising the minimum wage at Amazon."
But some critics questioned whether many of Amazon's employees would be left out in the cold in spite of the raises, circulating memes on social media maintaining that many Amazon workers would be excluded from the minimum wage bump:
According to Amazon, the wage increase will include workers employed by temp agencies along with seasonal holiday employees, while workers already earning $15 an hour will receive pay increases. The pay bump will also include employees of subsidiaries such Whole Foods grocery stores.
However, the new minimum wage will not include independent contractors, such Amazon Flex drivers. Some workers said they'll lose money because the company is eliminating certain bonuses to pay for the raises:
Warehouse workers for the e-commerce giant in the U.S. were eligible in the past for monthly bonuses that could total hundreds of dollars per month as well as stock awards, said two people familiar with Amazon’s pay policies. The company informed those employees Wednesday that it’s eliminating both of those compensation categories to help pay for the raises, the people said.
Sanders' spokesman Josh Miller-Lewis said that while the senator applauded the wage increases, he's still waiting to see how it rolls out and affects workers. "They’ve told us that total compensation for every employee is going up," Miller-Lewis told us. "We’re trying to make sure that is true."