Wednesday, 21 November, 2018

Sanders congratulates Bezos on $15 minimum wage

Kathleen Frey loaded a cart with customer orders at an Amazon distribution warehouse in Fall River in 2017 John Tlumacki Globe Staff File Kathleen Frey loaded a cart with customer orders at an Amazon distribution warehouse in Fall River in 2017
Kelvin Reese | 03 October, 2018, 08:30

Beyond the US, Amazon announced it will pay 10.50 pounds an hour in London and 9.50 pounds in other parts of the UK. It also applies to workers at subsidiaries such as Whole Foods.

The move will affect all Amazon's workers - including seasonal and temporary staff employed via agencies.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, who has previously criticized Amazon's treatment of its workers, praised CEO Jeff Bezos Tuesday for his company's new $15 an hour minimum wage for USA employees.

Doug Gurr, Amazon vice-president and UK Country Manager, said: "We're excited to announce we are raising our minimum wage for employees from November 1".

Other companies also have moved to raise wages, particularly in this tight labor market.

Amazon also said it would begin lobbying for an increase in the federal minimum wage, which is now US$7.25. The fact that ordinary workers have seen barely any meaningful growth in wages in the past four decades, while executive pay continues to grow at a steady rate, reflects many issues in the way that modern companies operate.

The online retailer also said it would now lobby in Washington DC for an increase in the federal minimum wage and urged its competitors to follow its lead as the union-led "Fight for Fifteen" movement pushes for higher remuneration.

The increase pushes Amazon's lowest wage above that at Walmart Inc and Target Corp, but it is still $7 shy of the average for a non-management worker in transportation and warehousing in the U.S. as a whole. "And I want to congratulate Mr. Bezos for doing exactly the right thing".

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Amazon's biggest wind farm opened in October 2017 in Snyder, Texas. Bezos thanked Sanders for his support on Twitter Tuesday.

"What's interesting about Silicon Valley-and I'm including Amazon, even though they're not technically Silicon Valley-is that those companies have attained a position of great power in the US economy with relatively little in the way of labor market policies because they employ very few workers relative to what companies in similar positions of power would've employed in pervious eras", Steinbaum says.

Accordingly, retailers, who employ a sizable share of the nation's lower-paid workers, have been stepping up pay increases. It could well be, and I think it will be, the shot heard around the world.

Amazon is raising its minimum wage for all employees to $15, a bump that could have implications throughout the United States workforce.

Both Target and Walmart have said the wage hikes have benefited their businesses. "If you are profiting from changes in the economy, we need to make sure that everyone in this country has a stake in that economy".

At a press conference in September where he formally introduced the bill with Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), Sanders said Bezos could set a great example by raising wages. It will rise to $15 an hour by 2020. It represents a raise to about US$30,000 a year for a full-time worker, 20 per cent above the federal poverty level for a family of four.

Target CEO Brian Cornell recently said the number of job applicants rose by 60 percent in the days after Target increased its minimum wage by $2, to $11 per hour, last year.

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