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Facing Intense Criticism, Amazon is Forced to Raise Minimum Wage to $15 for All U.S. Employees

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) must be overjoyed. Amazon.com has said it will raise the hourly wage of all its employees to $15 an hour, the rate Sanders has been shaming Amazon and its billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, into granting for the past year.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Seattle, WA, United States (4E) – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) must be overjoyed. Amazon.com has said it will raise the hourly wage of all its employees to $15 an hour, the rate Sanders has been shaming Amazon and its billionaire owner, Jeff Bezos, into granting for the past year.

The long-overdue pay raise for Amazon employees, many of whom have to rely on food stamps because of their low hourly Amazon wages, will take effect Nov.1 this year. The new minimum wage will benefit more than 250,000 Amazon employees (including part-time and temporary employees) and 100,000 seasonal employees. Some employees who already make $15 per hour will also see a pay increase.

Amazon will also raise wages for British employees to a minimum of £10.50 ($13.61) for workers in London and £9.50 ($12.31) in the rest of the Unnited Kingdom.

Amazon and Bezos have faced intense criticism for the low hourly pay among Amazon employees. Sen. Sanders last month introduced a bill called the “Stop Bezos Act” to tax corporations for every dollar their low-wage workers receive in government health-care benefits or food stamps.

Amazon said the effect of the higher pay will be reflected in its forward-looking quarterly guidance. Shares of Amazon were trading a fraction of 1 percent lower before the market open.

The company and CEO Jeff Bezos have been facing criticism for its pay disparity. Sen. Bernie Sanders last month introduced legislation called the Bezos Act to tax corporations for every dollar that their low-wage workers receive in government health-care benefits or food stamps.

In early September, Sanders attacked Amazon in a blistering tweet before filing the Stop Bezos Act that said: “Thousands of Amazon workers have to rely on food stamps, Medicaid and public housing to survive. That is what a rigged economy looks like. Tomorrow we will introduce a bill to end subsidies for low-wage employers.”

Amazon’s starting pay varies by location. It ranges from $10 an hour at a warehouse in Austin, Texas to $13.50 an hour in Robbinsville, New Jersey. In 2017, the median Amazon employee earned just under $28,500, according to company filings. Bezos earned $1.7 million.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Bezos. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

Target said it will raise ita minimum hourly wage to $15 by 2020. Walmart announced plans in January to raise its minimum wage to $11 from $9.

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Labor

Global Wage Growth Falls to Lowest Level in a Decade

Employees around the world aren’t getting the salaries they deserve despite companies raking-in more profits than ever before.

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

Geneva, Switzerland (4E) – Employees around the world aren’t getting the salaries they deserve despite companies raking-in more profits than ever before.

The International Labor Organization’s (ILO) Global Wage Report reveals that global wage growth fell to its lowest in almost a decade in 2017. The report found that international wage growth saw a 0.6 percent decline in 2017 based on data from 136 countries.

Surprisingly, the rich G-20 nations saw wage growth fall from 0.9 percent to 0.4 percent between 2016 and 2017. Average wages in advanced G-20 economies only grew by 9% during the period.

Emerging and developing G-20 countries saw wage growth fall from 4.9 percent to 4.3 percent. Average wages in emerging and developing G-20 countries almost tripled over the last 20 years in contrast to the 9% growth in G20 countries.

Wage inequality between genders was also a key issue. This problem was more marked in low and middle-income economies. ILO said wages were frequently insufficient to cover workers’ needs or provide for families in these countries.

ILO Director General Guy Ryder said wage growth was generally seeing a continuous slowdown.

“It’s puzzling that in high-income economies we see slow wage growth alongside a recovery in GDP growth and falling unemployment — and early indications suggest that slow wage growth continues in 2018,” he said.

“Countries should explore, with their social partners, ways to achieve socially and economically sustainable wage growth.”

Earlier this week, a study suggested wage growth could slow in the U.S. if Trump went ahead with the 25% tariffs on Chinese goods. This move will mean households spending an extra $2,400 in 2019 and as much as $17,300 by 2030.

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Amazon’s European Employees to Protest Inhuman Working Conditions on Black Friday

Angry employees of Amazon.com across Europe will stage coordinated protests today, Black Friday, to protest “inhuman” working conditions at warehouses that also makes them feel like “trapped animals.”

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Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor

London, United Kingdom (4E) – Angry employees of Amazon.com across Europe will stage coordinated protests today, Black Friday, to protest “inhuman” working conditions at warehouses that also makes them feel like “trapped animals.”

The protests will take various forms. In the United Kingdom, protesting employees will air their grievances outside the warehouses while in Spain and Italy workers intnd to go on a 24-hour strike. The biggest protests, however, will occur in the UK.

There will be demonstrations outside five fulfilment centers on Friday. The largest walkout will take place at Rugeley, near Birmingham, where more than 100 employees will join the protest at the warehouse.

Protesters will then march to a rally at the Lea Hall Miners’ Club where shadow work and pensions minister, Jack Dromey, will speak. They want to raise awareness about their plight and get Amazon to the table to talk about worker safety. But it’s the inhuman working conditions at Amazon warehouses that triggered the protests.

“They treat us like disposable parts,” said a warehouse worker. Another employee said, Amazon is an awful place to work. This person said employees can’t voice an opinion, and feel like a trapped animal with lack of support and respect.

British trade union GMB, which is supporting the protestors, said that working conditions at Amazon are “frankly inhuman.” They are breaking bones, being knocked unconscious and being taken away in ambulances, alleges the union.

Poring over government records, GMB discovered in June that ambulances were called out 600 times to 14 Amazon warehouses over the past three years. At the Rugeley warehouse, ambulances were called out 115 times over that period for electric shocks, bleeding, chest pains, and major trauma.

GMB said that at a similar sized supermarket distribution warehouse a few miles away, there were just eight call outs during the same period.

Amazon responded to the planned protests by claiming all its warehouses are safe places to work and reports to the contrary “are simply wrong.”

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Philly Millionaire Gives $20 Million to Employees as Thanksgiving Gift

J. Mark Baiada, founder and chairman Bayada Home Health Care, the 10th largest home health agency in the United States, is rewarding his employees with $20 million dollars in gifts this Thanksgiving.

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Philadelphia, PA, United States (4E) – J. Mark Baiada, founder and chairman Bayada Home Health Care, the 10th largest home health agency in the United States, is rewarding his employees with $20 million dollars in gifts this Thanksgiving.

He announced the stunning news to a room full of shocked employees at a company lunch Tuesday.

“I’m taking $20 million, dividing it up and giving it to everybody,” said Baiada to his employees. He said he wanted to show his “deep gratitude and appreciation” for his employees’ hard work over the years.

The value of each gift was based on lifetime earnings. One veteran nurse received $6,500. Even former long-term staff who retired after 2009 received checks.

“For me, it’s the relationships — working with all these people for such a long time, I really have heartfelt thanks and I want to express it,” said Baiada. “I just want to say thank you to them all… Thanksgiving is a season of gratitude. You look around your life and say, ‘I’m so fortunate.'”

Based in Philadelphia, Bayada Health Care has annual revenues in excess of $1.5 billion. The company employs 23,000 people (including some 7,800 in the Philadelphia region) who work at 310 offices in 22 states. It served 150,000 patients in 2015, including 37,000 in the Philadelphia region. Its services include home nursing, rehabilitation, therapy and hospice.

Baiada founded the company in 1975 with an investment of $16,000. He was 27 years-old at the time.

The move to reward employees for their work is part of Baiada’s plan to transform his company into a non-profit. Baiada called the move “unprecedented” and said the company is set to become a 501(c)3 organization.

The government said such organizations must be operated exclusively for “charitable, religious, educational, scientific, literary” and other purposes to qualify for tax exemption. Such charitable organizations cannot use any earnings to “inure to any private shareholder or individual.”

This transition was a key factor in his decision to give the money away now, according to sources. Baiada began seriously mulling this move in 2016. Baiada could have sold his firm for at least $1 billion, but instead, decided to donate it to a charitable foundation.

The process of turning Bayada over to a public charitable foundation could take several years. The plan is for the charitable foundation to own 80 percent of the company. The rest will be owned by the family and other employees, said Baiada.

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