INDIANAPOLIS — Amazon employees in Indianapolis expressed concerns about their future with the company despite a recently announced minimum wage increase for hourly workers and plans to open a new packaging center in Greenwood projected to create more than a thousand jobs; the company already operates a warehouse in Whitestown.
Employee complaints are largely due to the phaseout of incentives set to accompany the wage hike beginning Nov. 1, according to a local employee who spoke with News 8.
The employee, a single mother who was hired by Amazon nearly three years ago, said she feared company retaliation and requested not to be identified.
The elimination of monthly bonuses and new stock grants will result in some workers — including herself — earning less in total compensation, she said.
The employee revealed she makes between $15 and $16 hourly as an order “picker.” Job responsibilities include gathering products for delivery and ensuring orders are accurate.
The company’s move to increase its hourly minimum wage to $15 only results in a $1 increase for her, she claimed; the elimination of certain bonuses, however, could shrink her annual earnings by more than $4,000.
One such incentive, known as the “Variable Compensation Plan” or VCP, is an Amazon bonus paid out each month. Eligible employees can earn attendance bonuses of up to 4 percent, as well as an additional 4 percent in bonuses for meeting production goals. During the company’s “double down” period from October through December, attendance and production bonuses double to 8 percent, creating opportunities for workers to increase their pay by up to 16 percent.
“I could pull $1,500 [to] $1,600 [pay]checks during ‘double down,'” the employee told News 8.
She calculated her pay with the anticipated $1 raise — but without the VCP incentives — to total approximately $1,300 “if lucky.”
“It’s not just me,” she said. “It’s our entire building. [Longtime employees] are quitting over this. We’ve had quite a few people walk out and clean out their lockers.”
Her decision to speak out, albeit anonymously, was fueled by a desire to trump what she described as a “culture of silence” and “fear” within the company.
“Everyone feels like they shouldn’t say anything or speak out against it because it could cost us our job,” she explained. “Maybe me doing this interview can lead to many others speaking up for their families and for their coworkers.”
In addition to voicing her complaints, she said she had taken on two additional jobs in an effort to save money ahead of the holidays for her two young children.
“I’m exhausted but I have to do what I have to do,” she sighed. “[Amazon] couldn’t even give us until Jan. 1 [to phase out bonuses]. This was our Christmas money.”
A spokesperson for Amazon emailed a statement to News 8 in response to requests for comment:
“All hourly Operations and Customer Service employees will see an increase in their total compensation as a result of this announcement. The significant increase in hourly cash wages effective November 1 more than compensates for the phase out of incentive pay and future RSU grants. In addition, because it’s no longer incentive-based, the compensation will be more immediate and predictable. Employees who have previous grants that are vesting in 2019 and 2020 are keeping those grants, so they will benefit from both the value of those shares when they vest and the new increase in cash compensation. Some employees have benefited from a bull market and the unusually strong appreciation of Amazon’s stock price in recent years. This is a good outcome for those employees, but such stock price appreciation is by no means guaranteed to continue. Stock markets and individual stocks can go up, but they can also go down. For employees who want to invest in stock for the possibility of future growth, we will be rolling out a direct stock purchase plan in 2019. We are continuing to roll out the details of all these changes to employees this week.”