MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Amazon is pushing hard for the federal minimum wage increase. The country’s largest retailer talked with WREG about why they say it’s needed, while others say there could be more to this story.
Amazon is launching a news media blitz to push for the federal minimum wage to be raised to $15 an hour, and the company says research shows Americans agree its needed.
“We’ve been able to see the impact of increased wages on employees and the community where they live,” said Jennie Massey, Amazon’s public policy director. “The initial impact was in moral, recruitment and retention.”
Chris Jackson, senior vice president with Ipsos Public Polling, said when asked about raising the minimum wage to $15 or more, people tell them it would “help them be at a much firmer financial footing and stand on their own two feet.”
Amazon is one of the few major employers that already pays its employees $15 an hour. The company says well over half its front-line workers make more than that amount. It’s actively lobbying congress to follow the company’s lead.
Alan Crone, a Memphis employment attorney and founder of the Crone Law Firm, said he believes the wage increase is way for Amazon to put pressure on its competitors.
“Amazon is not doing it for altruistic reasons. They’re seeing it in the best interest of their business and shareholders,” Crone said. There is nothing wrong with saying we’re going to pay our people more . That will force Walmart, FedEx and some of the others to pay their people more because they’re in competition for good workers.”
The wage push also comes at time when a labor union is trying to organize about 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama.
Critics argue that as Amazon deals with labor issues, anti-trust concerns, and the company’s working conditions is a way to promote some goodwill with employees.
“There are lots of ways to resist a union organizing campaign and one of them is to ingratiate yourself to workers so they’ll feel they don’t need a union,” Crone said.
But some congressional leaders have voiced concern that a wage increase could lead to the loss of more than 1.4 million jobs.
The Biden administration has shown support for a hike from the current federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour.
Amazon is a major employer in the Memphis area.