Jeff Bezos to rivals: “I challenge” you to match Amazon’s pay

Amazon hikes minimum wage to $15 for U.S. workers

  • Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos is challenging other retailers to match or even top the ecommerce giant’s $15 an hour minimum wage.
  • In an annual letter to shareholders, Bezos said Amazon wants to hire hire employees “who can think like owners.”
  • Amazon remains under fire for what critics say are harsh working conditions in the company’s warehouses.

Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is daring other retailers to match or exceed the ecommerce giant’s minimum wage for workers, which it moved to hike last fall to $15 an hour.

In his annual shareholder letter, Bezos said Amazon decided to boost its baseline pay to become a leader in providing competitive wages. “This wage hike benefitted more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who worked at Amazon sites across the country last holiday,” he wrote.

Bezos called out his “top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage.” He added, “Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”

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Bezos, whose $115 billion fortune makes him the world’s wealthiest person, issued the challenge at a time Amazon remains under fire for what some claim is poor treatment of its warehouse workers. And while company employees got an hourly pay bump late last year, it came with a cost: Existing warehouse workers were no longer given stock in the company or bonuses.

Fighting for $15

Raising wages for low-paid employees has become a rallying cry for labor activists and workers. The Fight for $15 campaign has organized rallies and protests across the country in an effort to convince lawmakers and corporate chiefs to lift minimum pay, arguing that the federal minimum wage of $7.25 is far too low to provide a living wage.

“Our focus is on hiring and retaining versatile and talented employees who can think like owners,” Bezos wrote in his shareholder note. “Achieving that requires investing in our employees, and, as with so many other things at Amazon, we use not just analysis but also intuition and heart to find our way forward.”

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