Amazon announced today that it is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, including workers at Whole Foods. In all, Amazon’s pay raise impacts 250,000 full-time and 100,000 seasonal employees. The pay increase takes effect on November 1.
The move comes at a time when Amazon is facing increased pressure over pay disparity at the company. Senator Bernie Sanders even introduced the Stop Bad Employers by Zeroing Out Subsidies (or “Stop B.E.Z.O.S.” bill), that would have added a tax on large companies equal to the value of the public benefits their employees receive.
Amazon is also facing mounting pressure internally from Whole Foods employees who are not happy with the changes its new owner brought to the grocery chain. Workers there are trying to unionize amid complaints of reduced headcount and increased work with inadequate pay.
In addition to being a good thing for a company that has been valued at $1 trillion dollars to do, and a way to potentially get the government off its back, Amazon’s move — and all the subsequent news coverage — could also provide a nice halo effect when it comes to the company’s public perception.
Amazon is locked in a multi-front battle to be your grocer of choice against the likes of Target and Walmart. As CNBC notes, Target has announced plans to raise its employees’ wages to $15 an hour by 2020, and Walmart only plans to raise its minimum wage to $11 per hour.
Immediately leapfrogging the competition gives it a hiring advantage (the company plans to open up 3,000 Go stores across the country by 2021), but it could also ease any guilty consciences people might have with buying groceries at Amazon, whether from Whole Foods or Amazon Fresh. If people know the company is paying a higher wage, it untangles, at least a little bit, some of the ethical quandaries shoppers might have.