Technology

Amazon to spend $1B to boost pay for 500k operations workers by as much as $3 an hour

An Amazon Fulfillment Center in Dupont, Wash. (GeekWire File Photo)

Amazon announced Wednesday that it plans to invest more than $1 billion in wage increases for its operations workers, promising raises of between 50 cents and $3 an hour to more than 500,000 employees.

Darcie Henry, Amazon’s VP of People eXperience and Technology, Worldwide Consumer, posted on the company’s website that the annual pay review for Customer Fulfillment, Delivery, Package Sortation, and Specialty Fulfillment teams was being moved up from fall to mid-May through early June.

Amazon currently offers workers in these positions a starting wage of at least $15 an hour, which it set in 2018 after facing pressure to boost compensation in its fulfillment centers and other facilities. The Seattle-based tech giant has been lobbying for other U.S. companies and the federal government to match that wage. The current minimum wage in the U.S. is $7.25.

Amazon now employs 1.3 million people worldwide and is the second largest employer in the U.S. behind Walmart. The company says it directly created 950,000 full- and part-time jobs in the U.S. (as of Q4 2020). In Washington state, Amazon employs 80,000 people.

The company brought on 500,000 workers in 2020 to help meet increasing demand for its online shopping and cloud computing services, fueled by the pandemic. Henry said Amazon is currently hiring for tens of thousands of jobs across its operations network in the U.S.

A view of the main floor of Amazon’s Kent, Wash., fulfillment center, conveyor belts and packing stations. (GeekWire File Photo / Kurt Schlosser)

At the outset of the pandemic, Amazon hiked hourly pay for workers confronting the coronavirus crisis by $2 an hour and doubled overtime pay. The company extended the pay increases twice, through April and May, before ending it in June.

Amazon said last June it would pay $500 million in bonuses to frontline workers and delivery partners. It also gave a $300 holiday bonus to frontline workers in December.

Warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., voted down a unionization effort earlier this month by a nearly 2-1 margin. Backed by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, it was the most serious effort to unionize a segment of Amazon’s workforce in the 27-year-old company’s history.

Amazon fought back in Alabama — and in the court of public opinion — by repeatedly touting its $15 wage and benefits. In defense against claims of poor working conditions in its facilities, the company sparred on social media with politicians such as Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

Here is Darcie Henry’s full statement:

A message from Darcie Henry, Amazon VP of People eXperience and Technology, Worldwide Consumer

Amazon is hiring now for tens of thousands of jobs across our operations in the U.S., and we’re looking for great people to join our Customer Fulfillment, Delivery, Package Sortation, and Specialty Fulfillment teams. In support of this effort, we pulled forward our annual fall pay review for these teams and will be rolling out increases from mid-May through early June.

More than 500,000 people will see an increase between at least 50 cents and $3 an hour, which is an investment of over $1 billion in incremental pay for these employees. This is on top of our already industry-leading starting wage of at least $15 an hour and the more than $2.5 billion that we invested last year in additional bonuses and incentives for front-line teams. These jobs come with a range of great benefits, like medical, dental, and vision coverage, parental leave, ways to save for the future, and opportunities for career advancement—all in a safe and inclusive environment that’s been ranked among the best workplaces in the world.

Other teams are continuing with their regular annual compensation review plans, which will occur throughout the remainder of 2021.

– Darcie

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