Published: Sun, April 14, 2019
Money | By Ralph Mccoy

Amazon's Bezos, Walmart's Bartlett trade jabs over wage hike

Amazon's Bezos, Walmart's Bartlett trade jabs over wage hike

Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos is daring rival retailers to raise their minimum wage to $16 an hour.

"I challenge our top retail competitors (you know who you are!) to match our employee benefits and our $15 minimum wage", Bezos wrote in his annual letter to shareholders. We will work hard to make them good bets, but not all good bets will ultimately pay out.

Amazon was also under fire for poor pay prior to raising the minimum wage to $15.

Amazon's wage hike came at a time when USA unemployment was at a near two-decade low as retailers and shippers were competing for hundreds of thousands of workers for the all-important holiday shopping season. Bezos did not call out competitors by name, but it prompted a response from Walmart's executive vice president of corporate affairs, Dan Bartlett, who challenged Amazon to pay more taxes.

By contrast, Bezos' total compensation past year was $1.7million.

Noting that Amazon pays all taxes required to pay in the USA and every country it operates, the spokesperson said it paid $2.6 billion in corporate tax and had $3.4 billion in tax expense in the last three years.

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"As a company grows, everything needs to scale, including the size of your failed experiments".

"Since the first-generation Echo, customers have purchased more than 100 million Alexa-enabled devices", he said. He mentioned educational programs available to workers and paid for by Amazon as well as the Amazon Future Engineer program with which the company hopes to get more people working in STEM fields.

Bezos said one "big winning bet" can cover the cost of the clunkers, and that calculus has been playing out at Amazon.

The CEO said he believed the wage hike was good for business, saying the increase was "beyond competitive".

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