Amazon says it is offering raises to all hourly employees in its US warehouses and call centers, a move that follows criticism of the pay and working conditions for the retail giant's lowest-paid workers.
As competition among companies for qualified workers grows more intense, they are increasingly willing to pay more wages. Walmart announced back in January that it plans to raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour.
CEO Jeff Bezos said "we listened to our critics" and "decided we wanted to lead". The change applies to all "full-time, part-time, temporary (including those hired by agencies), and seasonal employees" who are based in the US. In the US, Senator Bernie Sanders has publicly accused the company of underpaying its workers, and last month introduced a bill aimed to force Amazon to increase the amount it pays workers.
Christine Owens, executive director at advocacy group National Employment Law Project, said Amazon's call for changes at the federal level was a "significant" move.
The company's public policy team will also be advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is now $7.25 per hour. The people who sort, pack, ship and deliver orders for Amazon shoppers are crucial to Bezos's desire to make Amazon the one-stop shop for every purchase people might desire.
Responding to the new policy Tuesday, Sanders said Bezos' previous wages for workers "were so low that many of them were forced to go on food stamps, Medicaid, subsidized housing and other governmental programs". The title of the proposed legislation took aim at Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos: the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (BEZOS) Act. Bezos also recently passed the $100 billion mark in net worth and now, by most estimations, is the world's wealthiest man.
Workers across the country have pushed for a $15 minimum wage.
"Without a rise in wages, Amazon would be placing itself at a disadvantage in the labor market", Saunders said.
"We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage".
Amazon made the announcement on a company blog this morning.