Amazon Is Raising Wages for 500,000 Workers — Here’s Why That Matters

Amazon is giving a raise to more than half a million workers.

The e-commerce behemoth announced yesterday in a blog post that more than 500,000 employees will see an increase of between at least 50 cents and $3 an hour. The wage hike — which will roll out from mid-May through early June — comes in tandem with the company’s efforts to hire tens of thousands of people for roles across its customer fulfillment, delivery, package sortation and specialty fulfillment teams.

According to Darcie Henry, VP of people experience and technology, worldwide consumer, the raises mark an investment of more than $1 billion in incremental pay for those employees. Amazon’s starting wage currently sits at $15 an hour — more than double the federally mandated minimum wage of $7.25, which has been in place for 11 years.

“These jobs come with a range of great benefits, like medical, dental and vision coverage; parental leave; ways to save for the future; and opportunities for career advancement — all in a safe and inclusive environment that’s been ranked among the best workplaces in the world,” touted Henry.

The move, however, happens at a time when Amazon’s labor practices have come into scrutiny: Early this month, a landmark union push by workers at the retailer’s Bessemer, Ala., facility ended in a loss for organizers. The warehouse employs less than 1% of the approximately 950,000 Amazon employees in the country, but the vote marked a pivotal moment for the Seattle-based business, which has drawn criticism for its alleged shortfalls in handling the COVID-19 health crisis within its workforce.

Separately, former warehouse worker Christian Smalls — who was fired shortly after leading an employee walkout last March to protest the purported lack of protections at Amazon after a worker was diagnosed with the virus — is reportedly attempting to unionize other warehouse employees at four different facilities near Staten Island, N.Y.

FN has reached out to Amazon for comment.

The tech giant is set to report its first-quarter financial results after the market close today. Wall Street has predicted earnings of $9.54 per share and revenues of $104.46 billion.

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