Amazon garnered praise for raising the minimum wage for its hourly workers to $15 yesterday, but the widely-publicized move also came at the expense of monthly bonuses and stock options. The company explained its decision to shift to a new stock purchase program in the announcement blog post yesterday, citing that hourly employees preferred the “predictability and immediacy of cash to RSUs,” or restricted stock units, but the post doesn’t mention the loss of monthly incentives, which Bloomberg reported earlier today.
Several Amazon warehouse employees have criticized the move, stating they would actually be losing thousands in incentive pay. Currently, warehouse workers get two shares of Amazon stock when they’re hired ($1,952.76 per share as of writing), and an additional stock option each year. After the changes take effect, the RSU program will be phased out for stocks that vest in 2020 and 2021, and it will be replaced with a direct stock purchase plan by the end of next year.
An Amazon warehouse worker told The Verge via email that the news was devastating to fulfillment employees, many of whom depend on their RSU and VCP (variable compensation pay, a performance-based monthly bonus program) incentives on top of their hourly wages. VCP incentives, which are dependent on good attendance and hitting productivity targets, could get Amazon workers an 8 percent monthly bonus, and a 16 percent bonus during the peak November and December seasons.
Amazon workers have been responding to Sen. Bernie Sanders’ tweet praising the minimum wage raise, citing that on November 1st, many workers will have their paychecks cut, not raised.
Many Amazon warehouse workers are criticizing the pay raise as a publicity move as well as a political play, and it’s to be seen if getting rid of incentive pay is actually in the interest of workers. However, the company insists that the changes are for the benefit of employees.
”The significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and RSUs,” Amazon’s spokesperson said in an emailed statement to CNBC. “We can confirm that all hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement. In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable.”