The workers who build empires like Amazon deserve a fair return on their work. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the history of the world and warehouse workers have helped him amass his $164 billion fortune. Setting the wage floor at $15 is a modest commitment to the company’s workforce and the communities that are fueling Amazon’s growth.
“The announcement that Amazon is raising its minimum wage to $15 is a welcome acknowledgement that the largest player in goods movement has not been providing a living wage,” said Sheheryar Kaoosji, co-director of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center and a member of the Partnership for Working Families Board of Directors. “Unfortunately, this raise does not represent an increase sufficient to support a family, or truly compensate workers for all they do to make Amazon successful. Even worse, the company is cutting other benefits to offset this change.”
Amazon’s announcement comes after years of reports of the cost of Amazon’s success for the rest of us. Workers have reported horrendous conditions and low wages in Amazon warehouses; Seattle is grappling with the company’s role in its housing and homelessness crisis, and retailers and small businesses are struggling to survive while Amazon gets enormous subsidies. Senator Bernie Sanders recently took the corporation to task for paying poverty wages. Adding more fuel to the fire, Amazon’s anti-union materials were leaked to the press last week.
Jeff Bezos earns $4.5 million per hour. It would take a full time worker earning $15 per hour a year to earn what he makes in one minute.
Amazon has a duty to lead in working standards in the goods movement and retail sectors. Amazon should improve conditions in their warehouse by providing consistent employment, safe workplaces, predictable schedules, and investment in the communities where they operate.