Jeff Bezos challenges retail rivals to top Amazon's $15 minimum wage

Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos encouraged the company’s rivals to top its $15-an-hour minimum wage, arguing that the country’s workers will benefit if retail companies compete on pay.

“Today I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage,” Bezos wrote in a letter to shareholders on Thursday. “Do it! Better yet, go to $16 and throw the gauntlet back at us. It’s a kind of competition that will benefit everyone.”

Amazon raised its minimum wage last year, following a public campaign highlighting the company’s pay and work conditions led by Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersSunday shows preview: Coronavirus dominates as country struggles with delta variant Democrats urge Biden to commute sentences of 4K people on home confinement Briahna Joy Gray: Push toward major social spending amid pandemic was 'short-lived' MORE (I-Vt.).

Bezos wrote on Thursday that Amazon made the decision because it “seemed like the right thing to do.”

But the company also faced blowback for simultaneously eliminating monthly bonuses and stock options while raising its minimum wage.

Target recently announced that it would be raising its minimum wage from $12 to $13 an hour, and has set a goal of raising it to $15 an hour by the end of 2020.

Dan Bartlett, Walmart’s executive vice president of corporate affairs, responded to Bezos’s challenge by sharing an article on Twitter about Amazon paying nothing in federal taxes last year.

“Hey retail competitors out there (you know who you are) how about paying your taxes?” Bartlett wrote. “FWIW, the vast majority of our warehouse associates have been making more than $15 for a long time. And they still get quarterly performance bonuses.”