Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

 Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) gestures during a rally on jobs December 7, 2016 at Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

'We Listened to Our Critics': Caving to Massive Pressure From Workers and Bernie Sanders, Amazon Hikes Minimum Wage to $15 an Hour

"Amazon isn't doing this because they're nice. Public pressure forced them to."

Jake Johnson

After months of intense public pressure from progressive lawmakers like Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and company employees who shared their harrowing stories of low pay, long hours, and brutal warehouse conditions, Amazon announced on Tuesday that it is raising its minimum wage to $15 an hour for all of its U.S. workers by next month.

"I think the workers have stood up and fought back."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead," Amazon CEO and world's richest man Jeff Bezos said in a statement, openly acknowledging that the move came in response to widespread outrage over the trillion-dollar company's poverty wages, which have forced thousands of workers to rely on food stamps to survive.

While Bezos insisted that Amazon is "excited" to implement the wage hike—which will benefit more than 350,000 full-time, part-time, and seasonal workers—commentators were quick to note that the ultra-billionaire CEO is not raising wages out of the kindness of his heart.

"Amazon isn't doing this because they're nice," investigative journalist Ken Klippenstein noted in response to Amazon's announcement of the wage hikes, which will go into effect Nov. 1. "Public pressure forced them to."

While progressives were quick to highlight Sanders' role in bringing about the wage hikes—the senator has hosted town halls, held rallies, and introduced legislation to pressure Amazon to pay its employees a living wage—Sanders told the Huffington Post in an interview ahead of Tuesday's announcement that all credit for higher pay and better conditions should go to workers.

"This is huge, and I suspect the decision’s driver was primarily a scruffy-haired Senator from Vermont."
—Stephanie Kelton, economist

"I think the workers have stood up and fought back," Sanders said. "What we have done is call attention to the fact that it is a disgrace that the wealthiest person in this country and in this world are paying wages so low that workers are forced to go on food stamps and Medicaid."

"I think the pressure is building not only on Bezos and Amazon but every other employer in America: Pay your workers a living wage, at least 15 bucks an hour," Sanders concluded.


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

'People Power Has Won The Day': Manchin Dirty Deal Defeated

The win was the result of "hundreds of national and grassroots organizations, along with concerned Americans from coast to coast, working together for the health and safety of frontline communities and a livable future for the planet," said one campaigner.

Jessica Corbett ·


Emissions Unleashed by Manchin Deal Would 'Wipe Out' Any Climate Gains: Analysis

"This analysis shows that Manchin's dirty deal directly undercuts the potential carbon savings of the IRA by fast-tracking fossil fuel projects currently waiting on permits," said Fossil Free Media's Jamie Henn.

Jessica Corbett ·


Florida Told to Brace for Deadly Impact as Ian Expected to Become Category 4 Hurricane

The Tampa Bay area has long been a "sitting duck for catastrophic storm surge and has dodged several bullets," said one climate scientist. "Might not be so lucky this time."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Applaud Biden for Lowering Medicare Part B Premiums

"Democrats want to expand Social Security and Medicare," said one advocate. "Republicans want to cut, privatize, and ultimately end both programs."

Kenny Stancil ·


Suit Against Student Debt Relief Slammed as 'Transparently Frivolous Publicity Stunt'

"Why would this group bring this baseless claim?" asked the White House. "Because opponents of the debt relief plan are trying anything they can to stop this program that will provide needed relief to working families."

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo