Amazon Raises Minimum Wage After Workers Collectively Pushed Back At ‘Robot’ Culture

Grace Carr | Reporter

All full-time, part-time, temporary and seasonal Amazon employees will now receive higher pay after the company announced Tuesday that it will raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour.

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

The company’s customer service and operations employees will also receive an increase in pay, including those already making $15 an hour, according to the blog post. All Amazon workers, including Whole Foods employees, will receive a pay increase. The minimum wage change will take effect on Nov. 1.

The change comes after a number of Whole Foods employees began organizing to demand higher wages and other benefits after the Amazon-owned grocery chain fired a number of employees in July.

“No one trusts Amazon and there are fears in upper management that Amazon will clean house if sales rates aren’t hit,” a Whole Worker community founder told The Guardian Monday. “They’re squeezing all they can out of the workers. Amazon gives little notice whenever they make changes.”

A group of Whole Foods employees organized in early September over fear that layoffs and store consolidation might threaten their jobs. The workers wrote a Sept. 6 letter requesting paid maternity leave, lower health insurance costs and a better retirement benefits package. They also requested a $15-an-hour minimum wage.

They cited an “order-to-shelf” system in their letter that’s grown since Amazon bought the company in August 2017. The system directs employees to follow scorecards prescribing how to display, store and purchase items in the store.

The system is designed to “make everyone interchangeable,” a Whole Foods employee said, according to The Guardian. “They want us to become robots. That’s where they are going.”

“Local and speciality products have been cut and replaced with more conventional mainstream ones, and regional marketing and sign making has been removed,” a Whole Foods employee in Southern California also said, The Guardian reported. (RELATED: Amazon’s Whole Foods Deal Could Still Be Reversed Thanks To Forgotten Antitrust Case)

“Amazon’s brutal vision for retail is one where automation replaces good jobs,” United Food and Commercial Workers International Union President Marc Perrone said after the merger between Amazon and Whole Foods, according to The Washington Post.

The Post also pointed to an Oxford University 2013 study predicting that machines might perform 47 percent of U.S. jobs by the next 20 years.

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