Amazon raising warehouse, transportation wages $1 hourly

By Matt Day | Bloomberg announced a pay increase for hourly workers in the US that it says will take the average starting wage for most front-line employees in warehousing and transportation to more than £19 an hour. The company's minimum level of £15 an hour for all hourly workers in the US remains unchanged.

For jobs in Amazon's customer fulfillment and transportation groups, the starting pay will increase to £16 an hour, a spokesperson said Wednesday in an email. The Seattle-based company said the raise represents additional spending of almost £1 billion over the next year. Amazon is the second-largest private employer in the US, behind Walmart.

Amazon employed more than 1.1 million people in the US at the end of 2021. The company's total workforce was more than 1.5 million as of June 30. Most of those employees are hourly workers who pack and ship items, or work in retail stores like Whole Foods Market and Amazon Fresh.

The company also is expanding access to a program that lets employees get paid more frequently than once or twice a month, according to a statement.

Amazon faces employee activism and union drives at some of its facilities. In San Bernardino, where dozens of Amazon Air Regional Air Hub employees walked off the job in recent weeks, union organizers were unimpressed with the wage hike announcement. "How does Amazon respond to associates organizing for better pay, inflation and high turnover?" a post on Twitter by #IEAmazonWorkers said Wednesday. "With £1 y'all.

We're not feeling it." The group instead wants a £5 hourly raise to meet "the rising costs in the Inland Empire." Employees there start at £17 an hour. A petition signed by about 900 employees of the San Bernardino facility called for a bump in hourly pay, from £17 to £22.

"We will not stop until Amazon meets our demands -- on pay, safety and an end to retaliation," the tweet states. Union organizing also includes an Albany, New York-area warehouse where a vote is scheduled for next month. The company is challenging an election last April in which more than 8,000 workers at a Staten Island warehouse won the right to be represented by a union.

Staff writer Brian Whitehead contributed to this report.