Amazon to raise minimum wage to $15 per hour

Company employs more than 2,000 at Kent fulfillment center

Courtesy Photo, Amazon

Courtesy Photo, Amazon

Amazon, which has a large fulfillment center in Kent that employs more than 2,000 full-time workers, announced on Tuesday that on Nov. 1 it is increasing its minimum wage to $15 per hour for all full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal employees across the U.S.

The wage hike will benefit more than 250,000 employees, as well as more than 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at sites across the country this holiday season, according to a Amazon press release.

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

Amazon employs more than 2,000 full-time associates in Kent, according to a company spokeswoman. Current job ads for the Kent site shows warehouse workers can earn up to $13.25 per hour.

Nicole Grant, executive secretary-treasurer for Seattle-based MLK Labor, issued the following statement after Amazon’s announcement.

“Amazon’s wage increase is great news for the hundreds of thousands of Amazon workers who will be getting a long-overdue raise next month,” Grant said. “For years, Amazon has obstructed union organizing while paying poverty wages in their warehouses and other jobs along the logistics chain, which has hurt workers across the industry. All workers should be able to afford housing, childcare, and other needs for their families. Although there is still work to be done, this is a step in the right direction.

“Amazon’s decision shows that organized workers and community allies have the power to influence America’s largest corporations. When SeaTac voters approved the first $15/hour minimum wage in 2013, nobody could have imagined how fast it would spread. Although, we are one step closer to winning a federal $15/hour minimum wage, other companies like Target, Walmart and McDonald’s should follow Amazon’s lead and immediately increase their starting pay.”

Amazon’s public policy team will also begin advocating for an increase in the federal minimum wage.

“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,” said Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon Global Corporate Affairs. “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.”

Employees will continue to receive benefits, including comprehensive health care with medical, dental and vision coverage; up to 20 weeks of paid parental leave; 401k matching; Career Choice, which pre-pays 95 percent of associates’ tuition for courses in high-demand fields, whether those jobs are at Amazon or another company; Career Skills, which trains hourly associates in critical job skills like resume writing, how to communicate effectively and computer basics.

Employees who are already making $15 per hour or higher also will receive pay increases.

Amazon has more than 575,000 employees worldwide.

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