Amazon workers celebrating their employer’s decision to give workers raises to $15/hour may want to hold off on their touchdown dance.
The raises, which were announced Tuesday morning, were greeted with fanfare, even by some of the company’s biggest critics. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) — who has been leading the charge in pressuring Amazon to pay employees at least $15/hour — tweeted video of Amazon workers cheering after learning of their new pay raise.
“This is what the political revolution is all about,” Sanders tweeted.
This is what the political revolution is all about: today 350,000 Amazon workers found out they are getting a raise to at least $15 an hour. pic.twitter.com/RbEojpc9X0
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) October 2, 2018
However, Amazon is arguably only shifting money from one pot to another. Bloomberg reported Wednesday afternoon that workers’ increased hourly pay comes at the cost of their benefits. According to the outlet, the higher minimum wage comes at the expense of monthly bonuses and stock awards, which are being eliminated as the new higher wage goes into effect.
“[B]ecause [pay is] no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable,” the company stated.
At the same time, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos makes roughly $10 million an hour, going by the appreciation of his 78.8 million shares of Amazon stock. Assuming that rate of growth, Bezos could singlehandedly pay for all 566,000-plus Amazon employees to all get $10 more per hour at a cost of $11.6 billion, while still growing his own personal net worth by more than $80 billion each year.
It could be easily argued that the elimination of the stock awards and monthly bonuses is an unnecessary cost-savings measure for Amazon, which recently became the second company to ever surpass $1 trillion in market value last month, after Apple became the first. To put that in perspective, global retail giant Walmart has a market cap of just $281 billion as of October 2.
As Grit Post previously reported, many Amazon workers were paid so little they qualified for food stamps prior to the new wage increase. New Food Economy found that Amazon ranked among the top 20 employers for workers on food stamps in at least five states between September 2017 and February 2018.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.