Amazon to increase the pay of over 500,000 workers amid union battles

Employees will get a raise of between 50 cents and $3.

Lucas Jackson / reuters

Amazon has announced a pay rise of up to $3 an hour for logistics workers amid heightened scrutiny of its controversial labor practices. The retailer has brought forward its pay review as it looks to to recruit hundreds of thousands of front-line employees across its US operations, according to Darcie Henry, Amazon vice president. More than 500,000 workers will see an increase of between 50 cents and $3 an hour, Henry said in a statement, on top of the "$15 an hour starting wage" they already receive.

Amazon's raises follow a period of bruising criticism of the company's work practices during the pandemic, including its productivity quotas, from activists and officials alike. The anger was encapsulated by the unionization drive at an Amazon fulfilment center in Bessemer, Alabama.

Earlier this month, two-thirds of workers at the warehouse voted not to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). But, the outcome was subsequently challenged amid accusations that Amazon unlawfully intimidated employees. The union responded by filing 23 objections with the National Labor Relations Board, with regulators now set to hold a May 7th hearing to review the complaints, according to Reuters.

Amazon has rejected the RWDSU’s allegations. “Rather than accepting these employees’ choice, the union seems determined to continue misrepresenting the facts in order to drive its own agenda,” a spokesperson previously told CNBC. But, the power to throw out the results now rests with the labor board's regional director, a decision that could pose far-reaching consequences for both Amazon and the US labor movement.

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