Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) called on Amazon on Thursday to ensure that all of its hourly workers will receive a boost in compensation after the company drew criticism for slashing stock options and incentive-based pay even as it hiked its minimum wage to $15 per hour.
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“Our understanding is that the vast majority of Amazon workers are going to see wage increases, including some very significant increases as the minimum wage goes up to $15 an hour,” Sanders said in a statement to FOX Business. “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.”
A noted critic of Amazon’s pay practices, Sanders praised the e-commerce giant earlier this week after CEO Jeff Bezos raised the minimum wage to $15 for some 350,000 hourly employees, including seasonal workers. The company also slightly boosted pay for hourly workers already earning $15 per hour.
But an Amazon spokesperson confirmed to FOX Business on Wednesday that the company is phasing out restricted stock units, or RSUs, as a form of compensation for customer-service and warehouse employees, at a time when Amazon shares are approaching $2,000. The company is also ending monthly incentive-based pay bonuses for warehouse workers tied to facility production goals.
The minimum wage increase “more than compensates” employees for the phasing out of stock awards and incentive pay, the company said.
“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,” the statement added. “In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable.”
Over the last several months, Sanders has repeatedly called out Amazon for failing to pay some workers a living wage – a charge the booming brand has long denied. The senator introduced a Senate bill last month that sought to require large employers to pay taxes equal to the cost of government assistance programs its workers use to make ends meeting.