Amazon announced on Tuesday that it will start to pay its US workers a minimum wage of $15 an hour. The policy will take effect starting next month. Amazon has been criticized in the past for putting its workers in poor conditions and paying very little in wages. A statement released by the company’s CEO Jeff Bezos acknowledged the criticism adding that the e-commerce giant felt it was time to do something. Bezos also urged other large employers to follow suit in raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour. The new wages will apply to both permanent and seasonal employees.
Amazon said that it will also begin lobbying for a federal hike in minimum wages across the country. Senior Vice President of Amazon’s global corporate affairs Jay Carney noted that the company will seek congressional support over the coming few months to push the national minimum wage up from its current $7.25 an hour. The announcement by Amazon comes at a time when the labor market in the US has seen significant improvement in recent months.
Amazon is one of the largest employers in the country with a total of 250,000 full-time employees in the US. The total workforce working for the company all over the world is nearly 575,000. Amazon also employs at least 100,000 seasonal employees each year. The company confirmed that the $15 an hour minimum wage will cover employees in all the businesses that the company has acquired. This includes Whole Foods and other Amazon subsidiaries.
The push to increase the minimum wage in the US has intensified in recent years. Labor lobbyists are calling for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage in a campaign colloquially known as “Fight for $15.” Some states including New York and California have joined in these efforts. New York and California, for example, have passed legislation increasing the average minimum wage in their states. However, they haven’t been able to offer $15 an hour in line with the targets set by labor lobbyists across the country.
Amazon’s decision has been met with praise from different quarters. Senator Bernie Sanders, in particular, expressed his satisfaction with the move congratulating Bezos for doing the “right thing.” Sanders also noted he’s confident that Amazon will support a broader initiative that pushes the country towards $15 an hour in the future. Amazon’s decision was also welcomed by Larry Kudlow, the chief economic advisor to President Donald Trump.
Amazon is the second company in history after Apple to hit $1 trillion in value. The e-commerce giant has been expanding into other businesses in recent years. Its CEO and founder Jeff Bezos is now the richest person in the world with an estimated net worth of $160 billion. A lot of analysts believe that if there’s any company that has the financial power to offer a $15 an hour minimum wage, then Amazon is the one. The e-commerce giant is also set to open its new headquarters in a location that’s yet to be announced by the end of the year.