Amazon is raising the minimum wage for all of its workers to $15 an hour next month, the company announced on Tuesday morning. Amazon executives also said they would push for a raise of the federal minimum wage.
The raise is going to benefit more than 250,000 full-time and part-time Amazon employees as well as 100,000 seasonal employees the company is planning to hire for the upcoming holiday season.
Workers hired by temp agencies on behalf of Amazon will also be included, as will anyone working for any of Amazon’s subsidiaries, such as Whole Foods. The company also said workers who already make $15 or more per hour may see additional pay raises.
“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”
Amazon had been under pressure for some time over both pay and working conditions at its fulfillment centers and its delivery operations. The company was singled out by Senator Bernie Sanders last month, with Sanders proposing a bill that would have forced Amazon to repay any government assistance taken by Amazon workers to make up for sub-par wages.
Sanders thanked Bezos Tuesday morning on Twitter, and called on other companies to follow suit.
What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos' lead. https://t.co/06wIAHunPq
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 2, 2018
Bezos responded with a tweet of his own, and said he also hoped that other companies would raise their wages as well.
— Jeff Bezos (@JeffBezos) October 2, 2018
It’s worth pointing out that the $15 hourly wage is not an arbitrary number. Labor activists have been pushing for a $15 minimum wage for some time, and for instance, picketed fast food chains to pressure them to raise wages.
At least on this front, they may now have found a new ally in Amazon. The company announced Tuesday that it would start to lobby for a higher federal minimum wage.
“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, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs, said in a 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.”
Investors largely seemed to shrug off the additional costs associated with the wage increase on Tuesday. After first sinking slightly, the company’s stock price traded in positive territory later in the morning.