Workers at Amazon warehouses in California will see their hourly wage raised to $15 per hour, and the prediction is that this will put pressure on other area warehouses to do the same. There is also expected to be a surge of better business for supermarkets and other local businesses since the wage increase translates to about $2 more for workers.
Advocates for workers say it is the right step, but also urge caution. Amazon has come under fire for its treatment of workers, including what some say is an excessive amount of monitoring. The company has also resisted any worker attempts to unionize. Furthermore, most Amazon warehouse workers are part-time, so they will still struggle to live on the wages. There has been some criticism from workers about the company's decision to eliminate incentive pay and stock options.
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Living Wage calculator estimates that a worker in California must be paid around $14.01 per hour in order to meet basic needs and $30.04 per hour if there is one working adult and two children. For employers with more than 24 workers, the minimum wage in California is $11 per hour. It is supposed to hit $15 per hour by 2022 with small businesses given an extra year to reach that mark.
Companies may attempt to bypass wage and hour laws and underpay workers in various ways. For example, workers may be required to work long hours but not be paid the overtime they are due. They may not be paid for time spent on certain duties they are required to perform, such as putting on protective clothing. People who believe their employer is violating these laws may want to talk to an attorney about how to document the violations and address the situation.