SCHERTZ — Amazon’s call to raise the minimum wage at its fulfillment center to $15 an hour couldn’t have come at a better time, say employees, city officials and chamber of commerce leaders.
In early October, Amazon decided to hike compensation nationwide, but also eliminated monthly bonuses and stock grants. City Hall and The Chamber believe the additional money in paychecks could fortify the local economy just before the holidays.
“We support anything that promotes a positive economic turn in our communities, and increases in finances for people that live and work here is a positive thing,” said Maggie Titterington, president of The Chamber, which serves the Schertz-Cibolo-Selma area.
Councilman Ralph Gutierrez applauded Amazon for rewarding its United States employees – with about 850 based at the 1.25 million-square-foot Schertz fulfillment center, the company said – with a pay bump.
Titterington and Gutierrez noted the extra earnings at the center, 6000 Schertz Parkway, could produce an upswing in local purchases, which also translates into additional sales taxes.
Overall, the move benefits more than 250,000 U.S. employees, including part-timers and temporary workers, plus another 100,000 seasonal hires, according to the online-order company. Workers in the United Kingdom also saw salaries rise.
“I think nowadays it is probably getting harder for families to get out and spend because everybody is on a budget,” Titterington said. “So, a little extra income will allow families to enjoy different things that Schertz offers.”
Added Gutierrez, “Some of the (Amazon) workers may not live here, but they will spend their money here. … Any pay increase helps with their lifestyle, whatever it is. You tend to look it as a positive anytime a company invests more money in their employees.”
While officials swoon over the potential economic impact on the region, Councilman Cedric Edwards has mixed feelings and laments the elimination of bonuses and stock awards.
However, he supports the action so long as it leads to employee retention.
“I’ll leave that to (Amazon CEO) Jeff Bezos and Amazon shareholders to decide if (the wage increase) is a good or bad thing,” Edwards said.
Adrian Echeverria and Leonard Flowers are two employees who say the increase is helpful.
Both have children in college and mothers who have battled or are combating medical issues.
Echeverria’s mom is fighting what he called a “rare” heart disease, while Flowers’ is in remission from breast cancer.
Because of the pay boost, the two men said they don’t have to work additional jobs on their days off to support their families.
“I will have extra money for Christmas and birthday presents, plus pay off credit cards,” said Echeverria, a Puerto Rico native with a daughter turning 18 and a 6-year-old girl hoping for dolls from Santa Claus. “A little bit more money is also good to be saved up for an emergency.”
Flowers, meanwhile, said he plans to purchase video games for his nephews.
“I’m looking forward to seeing the expression on their faces when they open their presents,” he said.
Flowers and Echeverria, who both started at Amazon making $12 an hour, believe the uptick more than compensates for lost incentives.
“You have to see the numbers to see that you’re getting paid more,” Echeverria said. “At the end of the day, they didn’t really take out the bonuses because we get it back on the raises.”