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Amazon raises minimum wage to $15 after criticism

Amazon has announced that it will raise its hourly minimum wage to $15. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us,” said Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos. (Jim Watson/AFP/Getty Images)

Amazon has announced that it will raise its minimum wage to $15 for all its workers.

What are the details?

The increase will also apply to employees at Whole Foods and other Amazon subsidiaries. The change will affect more than 250,000 Amazon employees and 100,000 seasonal employees. According to Amazon's most recent year-end report, the company employed 566,000 employees, not counting employees at subsidiary companies.

The company has also raised its minimum wage to £10.50 ($13.62) in London and £9.50 ($12.32) in the rest of England.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” Amazon's founder and CEO Jeff Bezos said in a blog post. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs and former Barack Obama press secretary, also said in the post. “We intend to advocate for a minimum wage increase that will have a profound impact on the lives of tens of millions of people and families across this country.

Before this announcement, Bezos had faced criticism for the amount his workers were paid, including from Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.). After Amazon workers in Germany, Spain, and Poland went on strike in July to protest working conditions, Sanders slammed Bezos for earning "$275 million a day" while "Amazon workers are afraid to take bathroom breaks at work and are grossly underpaid.

In 2017, the average Amazon employee made $30,000. At $15, a worker who works eight hours a day and 261 days a year would make $31,320.

Employees who are already making $15 will get a pay increase, although it is unclear how much of an increase that might be or how much it will vary by location or employee.

What else?

Now that he has increased the minimum wage at his own company, Bezos says he will try to get the rest of the United States to join him.

"We believe $7.25 is too low. We would look to Congress to decide the parameters of a new, higher federal minimum wage," he said in the the same blog post.

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