"We're excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us", said Amazon and founder Jeff Bezos. U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders, who consistently pressed Amazon on the issue, recently introduced the Stop BEZOS Act, which sought to tax companies with employees who earned wages low enough that they received federal welfare benefits.
The online giant also said it will push Congress to increase the federal minimum wage, now at $7.25.
The 2017 annual total compensation of our median compensated employee other than Mr. Bezos was $28,446; Mr. Bezos' 2017 annual total compensation was $1,681,840, and the ratio of those amounts is 1-to-59.
Amazon has raised the pay of thousands of workers in the United Kingdom and USA, after coming under increasing fire from campaigners over its low wages. "I want to congratulate Mr. Bezos for doing exactly the right thing".
Amazon will raise the minimum wage for all employees starting November.
"Without a rise in wages, Amazon would be placing itself at a disadvantage in the labor market", Saunders said.
"With many municipalities raising minimum wage over the next few years to approaching $15 per hour, this was not really a stretch for them to do that". The mean hourly wage for non-management workers in transportation and warehousing is $21.94. Workers have been protesting against fast food chains like McDonald's Corp. and demanding wage increases since 2012.
Amazon also said it was ending some restricted stock unit grants as it raised wages for hourly warehouse and customer service employees.
The company didn't say how many workers were making less than $15 an hour. It has faced stinging criticism of its labour practices, including grueling working conditions and lack of job security. Last month it became the country's second publicly traded company to be valued at more than $1 trillion.
The company called the accusations by Sanders "false and misleading", pointing to its creation of 130,000 new jobs over the past year.
In a 2015 article in The New York Times, employees described a "soulless, dystopian" work environment of long hours and and a lack of empathy for employees' health-related issues.
Amazon employees now receive support for job training and health coverage, as well as retirement benefits and paid parental leave, the company said.