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01/27/2021

Amazon publicly backs bill to set $15 minimum wage

Dan Berthiaume
Senior Editor, Technology
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Amazon is continuing its efforts to increase the federal minimum wage.

In a corporate blog post, Jay Carney, senior VP, Amazon global corporate affairs, said Amazon supports the Raise the Wage Act.  The bill, authored and co-sponsored by legislators including Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), and Rep. Bobby Scott (D-VA), would incrementally increase the federal minimum wage, bringing it to $15 an hour by 2025. 

In the past few years, Sen. Sanders has been a frequent public critic of Amazon over issues such as its pay and working conditions. However, in 2018, Amazon announced a minimum starting wage of $15 an hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary, and seasonal employees across the U.S.

In addition to providing workers with a living wage, Carney said that a minimum wage of $15 is also good for business.

“Once we increased our starting wage to $15 an hour, the positive impact on employee morale and retention—and the surge in job applicants—was immediate,” said Carney. “In fact, the month after we raised our starting wage, applications for hourly positions more than doubled. Employees who saw their paychecks increase told us that they had an easier time providing for their families and were able to spend on things like car repairs and home improvement projects. In short, the investments we made in our hourly employees were quickly transferred to local businesses and economies.”

Carney also cited the decision by several other major companies, including Target, Best Buy, and Costco, to increase wages to at least $15 an hour for their employees. In 2019, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos publicly challenged the company’s “top retail competitors” to meet or beat its starting pay and benefits package.

During the last congressional session, Amazon advocated for the previous version of the Raise the Wage Act, which passed in the House but stalled in the Senate. According to Amazon, President Biden has indicated he supports the bill.

“Our hope is that—with new support from the White House and committed leadership from the bill’s authors and cosponsors—this legislation will quickly advance to the president’s desk and be signed into law.,” said Carney. “As we take steps to recover from the devastating economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, America’s workers in need of a raise, small businesses that will benefit from increased spending and the country’s broader economic recovery simply can’t wait.