Bernie’s Shaming Wins Again – Amazon Promises $15 Minimum Wage

The Fight for Fifteen movement scored another major victory this week: starting next month, Amazon has agreed to increase its lowest wage to $15†per hour.

Over half a million people work for Amazon in the U.S., and about half of them will see an increase in pay thanks to this change. With that many employees impacted, itís a critical step toward ensuring that all American workers are, at a minimum, earning a living wage.

Make no mistake – the concession by Amazon didnít come without a lot of grassroots efforts to compel this wage boost. Itís becoming clear that publicly shaming corporations for paying poverty wages works; by CEO Jeff Bezosís own admission, the decision was made after ďlisten[ing] to our critics.Ē

Senator Bernie Sanders has been one of the more influential figures in pressuring Amazon to do the right thing. Although Amazon initially insisted they were paying fair wages and good benefits to workers, Sanders continued to emphasize how many workers still needed public benefits, and that Amazonís workers received even less than the average for workers in similar warehouse jobs.

Prior to that, Sanders participated in a prolonged but ultimately successful campaign demanding that Disney better compensate its workers. Itís not a good look for highly profitable, billion dollar companies to pay their workers so little that they rely on public assistance to get by, particularly a company that prides itself on being ďthe happiest place on earth.Ē

Even more exciting is that Amazon simultaneously committed itself to trying to make $15 a standard throughout the industry. The company said it would use its clout in D.C. to push legislators to increase the federal minimum wage so that all workers can earn a minimum wage.

Letís not hastily proclaim Amazon the patron saints of the labor movement, though. For starters, the company ignored pleas from employees for years until the public pressure became too much to bear. And while $15 is much closer to a living wage than their current pay rates, it still falls short of the estimated number Americans need to live adequately.

Moreover, Amazon has spent decades blocking unionization, which undoubtedly played a big role in keeping wages low for so long. Recently, a leaked training video for the company shows how the company bashed unions to try to scare workers from looking out for their own rights.

Amazonís assistance may prove to be a benefit, but the majority of Fight for $15ís wins thus far have come from the organized efforts of unions and Americans who support a living wage.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

52 comments

Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

good

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Paulo R
Paulo Rabout a month ago

good

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Dave fleming
Past Member 5 months ago

Great a decent wage .

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Joan E
Joan E6 months ago

Thanks, Bernie, for being the most honest, caring, dependable man in US politics.

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KS G
KS Goh6 months ago

Thanks for the article

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Mark R
Mark R6 months ago

And before we praise Amazon for lobbying for nationwide wage increase, let's not forget that Amazon does still have its competitors. If its rivals they can still pay their workers a lower wage, they have lower overheads and therefore gain that much of a competitive edge. Amazon sure as hell doesn't want to be the only ones made to pay a decent wage.

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hELEN h
hELEN h6 months ago

tyfs

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Chad Anderson
Chad A6 months ago

Thank you.

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Leo C
Leo C6 months ago

Thank you for sharing!

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Carole R
Carole R6 months ago

Good for Amazon but typical starter jobs should not start at $15. an hour. That would be unfair and push prices up. Experience has to mean something.

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