Amazon pushed back on concerns that some hourly workers will earn less under its new pay policy, reiterating in a letter to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) that its minimum wage hike outweighs cuts to stock bonuses and incentive-based pay that rankled some employees.
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“The significant increase in hourly cash wages effective November 1 more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and future [restricted stock unit] grants,” said Jay Carney, Amazon’s senior vice president of global corporate affairs. “In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable.
Carney said that hourly employees will keep stock grants that are vesting in 2019 and 2020. Amazon is also implementing a direct stock purchase plan for its workers, he said.
A longtime critic of Amazon’s pay practices, Sanders initially praised the e-commerce giant for raising its minimum wage to $15 for roughly 350,000 employees, including 100,000 seasonal employees. Amazon subsequently confirmed that it was cutting stock bonuses and incentive pay as part of the policy shift, prompting Sanders to write a letter to Amazon earlier this week asking for further details.
Amazon employees have told various outlets, including The New York Times, that they expect to earn less money under the new policy despite the increase in minimum wage.
Previously, Sanders championed a federal bill that would require large employers such as Amazon to pay a welfare tax to cover the costs of employees that relied on government programs. The senator has been sharply critical of the pay disparity between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and the company’s hourly workers, arguing that some were forced to use food stamps to make ends meet.
It’s unclear what impact Amazon’s new pay practices will have on its bottom line.