Amazon setting pace for retailers with wage hike

October 8, 2018

Every day brings new ironies to the national news. The latest is the fact that Jeff Bezos has literally upped the standard hours wage at Amazon, which he owns, to $15 an hour. Iconsider that the top news of last week.

Bezos is my hero. I met him and shook his hand in 2000 when he came to Huntington in connection with the Amazon Customer Service Center.

He was only a millionaire then. Today he is the richest man in the world. But instead of hoarding his riches, he’s decided to set a S15-an-hour standard minimum wage for his company.

I am not surprised President Trump has ignored Bezos and his bold move. First and foremost, Bezos owns The Washington Post, which Trump considers the enemy of the people, filled daily with fake news.

Yeah, right.

But there is more. Trump and his ilk do not believe in giving workers what they are worth. Republicans in general are opposed to minimum wage legislation and have proven they don’t mind paying employees subpar wages while you and I subsidize those making lousy pay with food and other welfare.

I am a bit surprised, however, that Mayor Steve Williams has not commented positively on the $15 Amazon minimum wage. Huntington will reap benefits. The Amazon employees in Huntington will have more money to spend and some of that money will spill into the city.

Bezos appeared in Huntington in 2000. Later, Jim Ross and I were sent to Seattle, Washington, to visit Amazon headquarters.

I was mightily impressed. Amazon was still primarily engaged in selling books, but it was clear Bezos had big, big plans.

Working at Amazon headquarters was quite different, even spectacular. Lunch, even dinner, were free. You could bring your dry cleaning to work; a dry cleaner would pick it up and return it to you at Amazon. Massages were available either free or low cost.

Anything to keep you at work.

A vice president I interviewed in Seattle had that look in his eye — a look that said Amazon was going to break the retail mold. But I am not sure even he or Bezos knew in 2000 what Amazon would become.

What has Amazon become? It is about to lure thousands of employees from companies that will not match Amazon’s “minimum wage.”

All the big box stores, especially Walmart, will have to match Amazon’s minimum wage or lose their best employees.

Yes, there’s going to be much “weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth,” but in the long run, America is going to be a richer and much more human place to live when employees get the pay they should have been receiving for decades.

“Working stiffs” who form this nation’s backbone ought to be rejoicing in the streets over Bezos’ bold move.

Mark my word: What Bezos did last week will be the beginning of an upward wage movement that will bring new hope to the low-wage blue collar workers who have taken it on the chin far too long.

And that hope will have come from the action of a multi-billionaire, the richest man in the world.

Dave Peyton is on Facebook. His email address Is davepeyton@comcast.net.

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