Amazon Cries Uncle

While I didn’t like the particulars of Sanders’ STOPBezos Act, which would have imposed corporate taxes equal to the benefits, such as SNAP, that a company’s workers was eligible to receive, it definitely seemed to have put the pressure on Amazon (boldface mine):

Even Amazon can get squeezed by political pressure and a tight labor market. The online giant on Tuesday said it would raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its United States workers.

It said the pay increase would include part-time workers and those hired through temporary agencies. The company said it would also lobby Washington to raise the federal minimum wage.

Amazon said the new wages would apply to more than 250,000 Amazon employees, including those at the grocery chain Whole Foods, as well as the more than 100,000 seasonal employees it will hire for the holiday season. It goes into effect on Nov. 1…

Amazon has come under increased scrutiny for the wages and conditions of its work force, particularly at the fulfillment centers where it packages and sorts orders, and with the contract drivers who make last-mile deliveries. Some workers at the grocery chain Whole Foods, which Amazon bought last year, have recently made a push to organize a union…

Senator Bernie Sanders, the liberal independent from Vermont, has taken on Amazon directly, pointing to new financial disclosures from the company showing that its median pay is $28,446, meaning half of its employees make less. Amazon, which is typically reserved when responding to criticism, publicly pushed back, saying Mr. Sanders’s statements were “misleading” and that median pay for its full-time employees in the United States was $34,123.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Mr. Bezos said in a statement. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

…“Once you’re paying a higher wage you tend to want your competitors to also pay a higher wage,” said Professor Manning. “If youre costs are going up, you’d also quite like your rivals’ costs to go up as well.”

While Fight For 15 has been disappeared from most news accounts, Sanders gave them a great deal of the credit. But the pressure seems to have worked, and if Amazon is onboard with a higher minimum wage, well, as the kids used to say, shit could get real (though note that Amazon hasn’t invited unions into its shop…). That said, this isn’t the end game, as it seems some employees, the better compensated ones, will receive less as a result of these changes. The fight isn’t over until there’s unionization.

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