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Amazon will raise its minimum wage to $15 for all 350,000 U.S. workers

The move comes in the wake of mounting criticism of the company’s treatment of warehouse workers.

Several Amazon workers at a warehouse scan stacks of packages on the shop floor Sean Gallup / Getty
Jason Del Rey has been a business journalist for 15 years and has covered Amazon, Walmart, and the e-commerce industry for the last decade. He was a senior correspondent at Vox.

In the wake of mounting criticism from politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders about its treatment of warehouse workers, Amazon announced on Tuesday morning a new $15 minimum hourly wage for all 350,000 of its U.S. employees.

The new pay threshold will go into effect Nov. 1 and impact all full-time, temporary and seasonal workers across the company’s U.S. warehouse and customer service teams as well as Whole Foods, the company said in a blog post. It did not disclose what its current minimum pay wage is for U.S. workers, perhaps in part because there is not one set rate.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Alongside the cash compensation bump, Amazon said it will eventually eliminate its practice of granting stock to these workers and will instead institute a program that allows them to purchase Amazon stock through the company.

The company claimed that “we’ve heard from our hourly fulfillment and customer service employees that they prefer the predictability and immediacy of cash to [restricted stock units]” and said that “[t]he net effect of this change and the new higher cash compensation is significantly more total compensation for employees.”

Amazon said those workers already making $15 an hour would also see a pay bump, but did not specify how much.

The announcement comes as Amazon has faced increased criticism over its pay and treatment of warehouse workers, and as CEO Jeff Bezos’s place as the world’s wealthiest businessman has made his company a lightning rod for politicians like Senator Bernie Sanders.

Sanders, in particular, has been relentless in his criticism of Amazon over the last few months, proposing a bill that would tax the company as a penalty for having workers who need food stamps and other public assistance to make ends meet.

News of the change also coincides with the lead-up to Amazon’s imminent announcement of where it will place a second U.S. headquarters, which will be sure to spark debate over the huge tax breaks that will likely accompany the winning deal. The Washington, D.C., area — the professional home of some high-profile Amazon critics — is seen as a frontrunner.

“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,” Amazon’s head of public policy, Jay Carney, 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.”

Among its large competitors in traditional retail, Target has said it will eventually raise its minimum wage to $15 — but not until the end of 2020. Earlier this year, Walmart said it was increasing its minimum wage for hourly workers to $11. But the changes at Amazon may pressure these companies to do something sooner, especially in advance of the important holiday shopping season.

This article originally appeared on

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