Amazon SVP on $15 Minimum: We Decided That This Was a Place We Could Lead Now

Oct 02

Amazon announced today that effective November 1st they are raising the minimum wage in the U.S. to $15 per hour. They are also raising the minimum in the U.K similarily.  Amazon senior vice president of operations, David Clark, says that the reason for doing this is that “we decided that this was a place we could lead now.”

In a tweet Clark said, “Shared the new Amazon $15 minimum wage with the team here at LGB3 early this morning! Best All Hands Ever!!!” Bernie Sanders tweeted back, “What Mr. Bezos has done today is not only enormously important for Amazon’s hundreds of thousands of employees, it could well be a shot heard around the world. I urge corporate leaders around the country to follow Mr. Bezos’ lead.”

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos replied to Sanders tweet saying, “Thank you @SenSanders. We’re excited about this, and also hope others will join in.”

David Clark, SVP, Amazon discussed why Amazon chose to raise their minimum wage with Bloomberg Markets and Finance earlier today:

This is a Place We Could Lead Now

This is really about the future. We’ve had a great year hiring and a great year of retention in fact. As we look forward we really said what do we want to be as an employer and what do we want our focus on pay to be? We decided that this was a place we could lead now. That’s why we went and moved now to the $15 in the U.S. starting November 1st. We are also moving to £9.50 across the U.K. and £10.50 in London effective November 1st as well.

This is really us (and not a reaction to Bernie Sanders). We didn’t look at what people had to say or to our critics, we really stepped back and said what do we want our focus to be and how do we want our view on pay to be going forward? We thought long and hard about it and we landed on a place that says this is an area we can take a leadership position in and that’s why we went ahead and did it.

Today is a Very Exciting Day for Our Employees

Our average pay is over $15 an hour when you include all of the stock and incentive pay. What we are talking about today is a new minimum pay, minimum cash pay, which will be effective across the U.S. and across the U.K. We will talk more about what it means to the overall company bottom line in our earnings call later in the month.

We are very excited about what this means for the company, what this can mean for customers over the long term. Today is a very exciting day for our employees as they receive this news coming up to the holiday season.

Our focus on both price and selection are unchanged by this and we expect to continue with great prices, great service, and great selection for customers in the months to come.

We Think the $7.25 Minimum Wage is Too Low

What we believe is that $7.25 as a minimum wage in the U.S. is too low. We will leave it to Congress and the experts as to what that number should be. For us that number is $15, we think that’s a good place to be and we encourage other large employers to join us there. We think the $7.25 federal minimum is too low and we encourage other big employers (like Walmart and Target) to start the journey and join us at the $15 level. That would be great.

We look at our wages and overall compensation structure in every part of the world every year. We will come back and look at it again in 2019 to determine if there is anything else needed at the time and we will do it every year going forward as have in the past.

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