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Amazon raised its minimum wage for US workers to $15 per hour. Then, it took a bunch of other benefits away in what's being called a "stealth tax."
- Previous to the announced increase in minimum wage to $15/hr., warehouse workers were eligible for production bonuses and stock awards. Those will be terminated when the wage is increased.
- Amazon claims it's a net gain for the workers, but others disagree.
- CEO Jeff Bezos still makes $30,000 a minute.
Net positive, or not so much?<p> Following the announcement earlier this week of Amazon <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2018/oct/04/jeff-bezos-amazon-workers-raise-monopoly" target="_blank">increasing wages</a> to $15/hr., the company today told its warehouse workers that production bonuses and stock awards are <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/03/amazon-hourly-workers-lose-monthly-bonuses-stock-awards.html?__source=facebook%7Cmain" target="_blank">no longer on the table</a>. </p><p> Because, of course. </p><p> "The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and [restrictive stock units]," Amazon's spokesperson said in an <a href="https://www.cnbc.com/2018/10/03/amazon-hourly-workers-lose-monthly-bonuses-stock-awards.html?__source=facebook%7Cmain" target="_blank">emailed statement</a> to CNBC. "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." </p><p style=""> The net effect will be a reduction for some, especially those who have been with the company the longest; warehouse workers had received effectively one share every year after having been with the company for a number of years. That would currently be worth nearly $2,000, and they received an additional extra share every five years as well. Also, production bonuses added up to as much as $3,000 a year for some. </p><p> Based on a 40-hour workweek, that's a <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/03/amazon-offsetting-pay-rise-by-removing-bonuses-union-says" target="_blank">net loss </a>of $2.40/hr. for those who were able to receive both of those bonuses. In other words, for those already making over $12.50/hr. plus stock and production bonuses, it takes money away. </p><p> The news comes on the heels of <a href="https://bigthink.com/politics-current-affairs/amazon-raises-wages" target="_blank">praise</a> from all over the place for the initial wage increase, including Senator Bernie Sanders, a long time critic of companies with employees forced to receive welfare and Medicaid because of such low wages. </p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY5MTk5My9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODYyMDM4OH0.AhWnpFYXzi8tSQ6-wsCo5k8dTkzV2_tpJAhjfujPaWk/img.jpg?width=1245&coordinates=0%2C56%2C0%2C17&height=700" id="dc8af" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="f957dbf9c40c17b51380eb086a17e4af" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Workers in an Amazon warehouse.
Amazon's "stealth tax" on its workers<p> At a time when CEO Jeff Bezos makes more every minute—nearly $30,000—than many Amazon employees do in total, it's an interesting move, and one that might test the loyalty of some long-time employees. </p><p> Reactions were swift. In the U.S., the United Food and Commercial Workers' union (UFCW) asks the question: </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en">Was the pay raise just a PR stunt? "Tucked away in the announcement was the fact that <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Amazon?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Amazon</a> will phase out its bonus and stock award programs for its hourly workers." <a href="https://twitter.com/CNN?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@CNN</a> <a href="https://t.co/00OFUPpjDo">https://t.co/00OFUPpjDo</a><br>— UFCW (@UFCW) <a href="https://twitter.com/UFCW/status/1047843821831315457?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 4, 2018</a></blockquote><script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p> <br> </p><p> And in a Tweet from the 700,000-strong <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/oct/03/amazon-offsetting-pay-rise-by-removing-bonuses-union-says" target="_blank">GMB union</a> in Great Britain, which seeks to represent more Amazon workers, Amazon's action was blasted as a "stealth tax":<br> </p><blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en" data-twitter-extracted-i1538699497455501187="true"> When Amazon announced their wage increases yesterday they said nothing about cutting staff benefits.<br> <br> This is basically a stealth tax 👇<a href="https://t.co/g2AtsiYJWk">https://t.co/g2AtsiYJWk</a><br> — GMB UNION (@GMB_union) <a href="https://twitter.com/GMB_union/status/1047566706489487360?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">October 3, 2018</a> </blockquote><script async="" src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script><p> <br> So, what say you? Is this a "Robbing Peter to pay Paul" move after a much-awaited pay raise, or is it a legitimate business decision based on dollars and sense? </p><p> Or something else entirely? <br> </p><img type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xODY5MzgwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODEwMDYyOH0.WCQYU_--cJGA5I72UnLxYJAndUvZUqzO679fX89Yhq0/img.jpg?width=980" id="41b3b" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="2447a3b49943be62a45ac573f611c71a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Photo: Getty Images
Are you there, Jeff Bezos? It's us, the 99%.<div class="rm-shortcode" data-media_id="Fg8Ex6H3" data-player_id="FvQKszTI" data-rm-shortcode-id="dca69cf11265bbd63f9cdbd73d5beeb5"> <div id="botr_Fg8Ex6H3_FvQKszTI_div" class="jwplayer-media" data-jwplayer-video-src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Fg8Ex6H3-FvQKszTI.js"> <img src="https://cdn.jwplayer.com/thumbs/Fg8Ex6H3-1920.jpg" class="jwplayer-media-preview" /> </div> <script src="https://content.jwplatform.com/players/Fg8Ex6H3-FvQKszTI.js"></script> </div>
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