Chobani is boosting its starting hourly wage to $15 per hour.
Starting next year during the first quarter, around 70 percent of all company employees in hourly roles will be guaranteed a floor starting wage at more than double the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour. This will also include any new hires at Chobani.
In efforts to prioritize people before profit, the greek yogurt company is paving the way for corporate responsibility amid a global pandemic.
“When this is all over, companies will be judged on how they behaved and how much profit is too much profit,” Chobani President and CEO Peter McGuinness told FOX Business. “We hope other businesses, particularly food manufacturers, look at their starting wages and increase them – not just because they can, but because they should. And it’s not an expense, it’s an investment that will make businesses stronger.”
The wage hike will also bump the salaries of employees working in the company’s manufacturing plants to $19 per hour. And for employees working in New York City’s Chobani Café, the minimum wage will be raised well over the city’s $15 minimum wage to $18 per hour in order to meet the area’s high cost of living.
On average, the hourly rates raise will land at around $19 per hour.
The move to double down on employee benefits is contingent on the return on investment, which outweighs the expense, according to McGuinness. Whether it’s through increased productivity, lower turnover rates at manufacturing plants or higher profits, the Idaho-based yogurt giant’s standpoint on “doing good” is mutually exclusive with “strong business.” As a result, there will be no cost passed down to consumers, according to the company.
Chobani’s pay raises also comes as the economy wrestles to recover from a coronavirus-induced recession and as many corporations have announced mass layoffs. To date, around 22 million Americans lost their jobs since the start of the pandemic, and only half of those have been recovered so far.
And as the number of Americans applying for state unemployment benefits remains at a historic high due to widespread layoffs Chobani’s mission to champion employees first will take on an exceptional spotlight.
"This moment of uncertainty is a call for us to join together to strengthen communities and support those working tirelessly to make the food on the tables of families across America," Hamdi Ulukaya, founder and CEO of Chobani said in a press release. "Businesses should serve the people and communities in which they operate. Raising our base starting salary is the right thing to do and we hope other businesses, particularly food manufacturers, feel the same as we all work toward rebuilding our country."