Amazon gives workers another pay bump to make up for lost bonuses

Irving Hamilton
October 12, 2018

Amazon, facing a backlash from longtime warehouse employees who say its $15 hourly minimum wage wouldn't benefit them, will provide a bigger raise to those workers.

When Amazon announced last week that it would boost its hourly minimum wage to $15, it also cut two benefits: monthly bonuses and a chance to own Amazon's sky-rocketing stock, now worth almost $1,800 a share.

The company also formerly issued warehouse workers restricted stock units (RSUs), which vest on their employment anniversary, after which point employees own the shares and may retain or sell them.

Many voiced their complaints internally and on social media. "It's not a pay raise", one employee said of the effect of the elimination of bonus pay. "It's a slap in the face".

A worker at a Maryland warehouse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said employees were told Tuesday that they would get a raise of $1.25 an hour after November 1. The company said today it plans to adjust wages and bonuses to ensure those workers don't receive lower wages as a result. The senator has been sharply critical of the pay disparity between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the company's hourly workers, arguing that some were forced to use food stamps to make ends meet. That's 25 cents more an hour than what they were told last week.

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The e-commerce giant changed some workers' hourly raises from $1 per hour to $1.25 per hour, and added new cash bonuses of $1,500 to $3,000 for tenure milestones every five years, according to Bloomberg.

The company's communications with its hourly workers - 250,000 people in the US spread over more than 100 facilities and multiple work shifts - has been uneven.

Amazon pushed back on concerns that some hourly workers will earn less under its new pay policy, reiterating in a letter to Sen. His manager didn't mention more was coming on November 1, or offer any details about the soon-to-be-eliminated perks, he said.

"There isn't much transparency" with front-line workers, he said.

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