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Many Amazon Workers Don’t Trust Jeff Bezos

Some workers did the math and aren't sure Amazon's promises add up. (Scott Lewis / Flickr)

Many Amazon workers aren’t sure that the company’s decision to raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour will actually result in more overall pay. The company will be getting rid of performance bonuses and its stock program, and employees had previously been expecting higher bonuses during the holiday season. Amazon’s founder and CEO, Jeff Bezos, is the richest person in the world.

The policy change will begin Nov. 1 and affect 250,000 employees and 100,000 seasonal workers. Contractors will not be included. This policy change also does not address previous employee concerns such as having to work on holidays, productivity goals so high there is no time for bathroom breaks, and intense surveillance during the workday.

While independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders praised Bezos, many concerned workers did the paycheck calculations for themselves.

“I feel hugely disrespected,” a Maryland warehouse worker told The Associated Press about the so-called raise. “The ones who are loyal should be rewarded for loyalty, not smacked in the face.”

“Amazon isn’t giving its employees a raise, they’re taking money from us,” one Arizona worker told Yahoo. “It only looks good if folks don’t know the truth.” He said his hourly wage was being increased from $15.25 to $16.25, but that he had expected to earn a few thousand dollars from the now-canceled incentive programs.

One Pennsylvania warehouse worker told The Associated Press she expects to make $3,000 a year less without the bonus. A worker who spoke with Wired said he expects to see a loss of $1,400 a year.

During the holiday season, Amazon workers could previously expect bigger, incentive-based payments.

“The timing of this; I don’t think it’s that much of a coincidence,” the Amazon worker told Wired. “November and December were the months where they would double the attendance and productivity bonuses.”

Amazon said in a statement: “We can confirm that all hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement. In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable.” The company also said that it will introduce a program next year for employees to buy stock.

Sanders, who pushed Bezos to enact the policy and even introduced legislation last month called the Stop BEZOS Act, said that the point of the changes should be higher net pay for workers. “Our understanding is that the vast majority of Amazon workers are going to see wage increases,” he said. “I would hope that as a result of Amazon’s new policy, no worker, especially long-time employees, sees a reduction in total compensation. Amazon can afford to make all workers whole and should do that.”

Naomi LaChance
Naomi LaChance has written for local newspapers such as the Berkshire Eagle and the Poughkeepsie Journal as well as national outlets including NPR, the Intercept, TYT Network and the Huffington Post. Her…
Naomi LaChance

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