Amazon's wage hike is 'not enough,' says Hill.TV's Krystal Ball

By Krystal Ball
Opinion Contributor

Well look at that! Amazon has decided to go ahead and bump starting pay for all their workers up to $15 per hour. That includes workers at their warehouses, at Whole Foods and even the seasonal workers that they heavily depend on. This is obviously fabulous news for those workers who deserve to earn enough money that they don’t have to rely on public assistance just to keep body and soul together. 

A couple thoughts here: First of all, Congressman Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaDefense Production Act urgently needed for critical medical gear 20 House Dems call on Trump to issue two-week, nationwide shelter-in-place order Lawmakers call for universal basic income amid coronavirus crisis MORE and Senator Bernie SandersBernie SandersWith VP pick, Biden can't play small ball in a long ball world Poll: Trump, Biden in dead heat in 2020 matchup Sunday shows preview: Lawmakers, state governors talk coronavirus, stimulus package and resources as pandemic rages on MORE deserve huge credit for pressing this issue. Their bill, dubbed the Stop BEZOS Act raised public awareness of the low pay for Amazon workers and the way that taxpayers subsidize large corporations when workers fall below the poverty line. Critics, including many I should say on the left, told them this bill was unworkable and not practical. Amazon’s decision to move forward with this wage lift is essentially an admission that Sanders and Khanna were onto something and made an important and resonant point.

Second, major kudos to the workers who have been organizing behind the fight for 15 for years now. They set the goal posts at $15 per hour and would not be moved even though 15 is more than double the current minimum wage. Because of the size of Amazon, their wage hike is a win for all warehouse and service workers. Amazon has just put all companies that compete for this pool of workers on notice that they’d better up their game. And for all my friends on the right but especially for those who call themselves Democrats who have been crying about how $15 is just too high and unrealistic, Amazon’s move is powerful proof to the contrary.

Finally, it’s not enough. What Amazon workers need now is a union. Serious concerns about worker safety and fair treatment have been reported at Amazon warehouses. Workers have fallen ill from extreme heat, had to urinate in bottles because they don’t have enough time to use facilities, and been unfairly terminated.

Workers should not be powerless and praying that Bezos will feel magnanimous today. They should have power in their own right to fight for higher wages AND to address substandard workplace conditions. And the only power for blue collar and service workers is through solidarity in a union. Thanks for giving your workers a raise Amazon.

Next, stop your union busting tactics and allow your workers to take their destiny into their own hands.

Krystal Ball is the co-host of "Rising," Hill.TV's morning news show.

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill.