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Jeff Bezos, Skinflint

World's richest man raises Amazon minimum wage -- but read the fine print

You see that Amazon established a minimum wage of $15 per hour for its workers? Great, right?

Here’s the fine print:

Amazon.com Inc. is eliminating monthly bonuses and stock awards for warehouse workers and other hourly employees after the company pledged this week to raise pay to at least $15 an hour.

Warehouse workers for the e-commerce giant in the U.S. were eligible in the past for monthly bonuses that could total hundreds of dollars per month as well as stock awards, said two people familiar with Amazon’s pay policies. The company informed those employees Wednesday that it’s eliminating both of those compensation categories to help pay for the raises, the people said.

Amazon received plaudits when it announced Monday that the company would raise its minimum pay. The pay increase warded off criticism from politicians and activists, and put the company in a good position to recruit temporary workers for the important holiday shopping season.

Even after the elimination of bonuses and stock awards, hourly operations and customer-service workers will see their total compensation increase, the company said in a statement.

Some Amazon workers say they will be financially worse off under the new plan.

Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world, worth $160 billion. The second-richest man, Bill Gates, has $63 billion less.

UPDATE: Reader ADL comments:

I work at a Amazon fulfillment center. A couple of things:
1) Amazon didn’t just decide to end the bonuses/”stock options” compensation. They surveyed warehouse workers and we voted for money up front. Bonuses only got paid if A) warehouses meet certain production numbers (a lot of people don’t like having our compensation based on the work habits of OTHERS), and B) it was based on employee attendance record (if you were out or late a lot, you didn’t get bonus). The stock we got awarded didn’t “vest” for a year. Those who quit or got fired before their year was up never got to cash in their stock option.

2) Those of us who’ve worked in warehousing can tell you that working at Amazon is WAY better than other places. The benefits are excellent (we qualify for health care insurance the first month of employment; this insurance is good and cheap compared to other companies), plus other great benefits. The $15/hr is the icing on the cake.

Plus it’s freakin’ Amazon– there are opportunities to move up (one of the operations managers at my fulfillment center began as a temp at Amazon 4 years ago), or into other areas of logistics (if this is your professional field).

So don’t knock Amazon. It’s an amazing company– certainly compared to the competition.



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