Jeff Bezos Challenges Rivals to Match Amazon’s $15 Minimum Wage
Amazon.com's CEO Jeff Bezos called on other retailers to match Amazon’s benefits and $15 minimum wage in his annual letter to shareholders filed Thursday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. "Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage," Bezos wrote. "Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone."
Last year, Amazon raised the minimum wage to $15 an hour for all for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees across the U.S. The wage hike, Bezos said in the letter, "benefited more than 250,000 Amazon employees, as well as over 100,000 seasonal employees who worked at Amazon sites across the country last holiday season. We strongly believe that this will benefit our business as we invest in our employees."
Total Retail's Take: This is indeed a noble fight by Bezos. However, we must remember that Bezos was not always so noble. After all, when he offered wages that went beyond competitive rates last year, Amazon had been under increased scrutiny about the wages and conditions of its workforce. And worse, from a PR perspective at least, the pay bump coincided with cuts to employee bonuses and stock grants. Regardless, retailers are starting to look more closely at wages as they try to attract and retain workers in a tight labor market. Earlier this month, for example, Target Corp. announced that it would raise its U.S. minimum wage to $13 an hour in June, from $12 currently. What's more, in 2017, Target said it was committed to raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2020. For now Walmart is lagging behind its two primary competitors, although it did boost its entry wage from $9 to $11 an hour last year.