Citing his company’s move last year to raise its minimum wage to $15 per hour, Amazon Inc. Founder and CEO Jeff Bezos is challenging other retailers to do the same or better.
“Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage. Do it!” Bezos wrote in the company’s annual shareholders letter. “Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”
Bezos didn’t name the competitors, but it’s clear he was referring to Walmart Inc., Target Corp. and other retailers rolling out things such as in-house fulfillment, private-label lines and delivery services to compete with Amazon, the world’s largest online retailer.
Bezos said Amazon’s wage hike effected 250,000 employees in the United States and an additional 100,000 seasonal employees.
“We had always offered competitive wages. But we decided it was time to lead – to offer wages that went beyond competitive,” Bezos wrote. “We did it because it seemed like the right thing to do.”
The minimum wage at Walmart, based in Bentonville, Arkansas, is $11 per hour. Minneapolis-based Target offers $13 per hour, but has said it will raise its rate to $15 next year.
In the letter, Bezos also cited the company’s growing base of independent third-party retailers as a solid source of revenue.