Amazon, facing a backlash from longtime warehouse employees who say its $15 hourly minimum wage wouldn’t benefit them, will provide a bigger raise to those workers. The news came on the same day that Amazon and Travelers announced plans to sell home security equipment online.
Travelers, one of the country’s largest insurance companies, announced Wednesday that it had launched an Amazon storefront where its customers can buy discounted hardware.
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Amazon also said Wednesday that some adjustments are being made this week, and workers who already made $15 an hour will get more than the $1 an hour raise promised last week. The amount will differ by warehouse and affect a small amount of employees, but Amazon declined to say how many.
“We moved quickly to get this information to our teams as fast as possible knowing there would be certain cases that would need to be adjusted between the announcement and November 1st when this new $15 minimum takes effect,” Amazon said in a statement, adding that it has been “adjusting site by site and person by person as needed since the announcement to ensure everyone experiences the benefit of this change.”
When Amazon announced last week that it would boost its hourly minimum wage to $15, it also cut two benefits: monthly bonuses and a chance to own Amazon’s sky-rocketing stock, currently worth nearly $1,800 a share. Several employees told The Associated Press last week that they expected to earn less because of the cut benefits.
Amazon said in a statement at the time that the changes meant “compensation will be more immediate and predictable.” The Seattle company, which has more than 100 warehouses around the country, said “the significant increase in hourly cash wages more than compensates” the benefits that will be phased out.
A worker at a Maryland warehouse, who spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of being fired, said employees were told Tuesday that they would get a raise of $1.25 an hour after Nov. 1. That’s 25 cents more an hour than what they were told last week.
The worker said they were also told they would get cash payouts for reaching certain milestones. They’ll receive $1,500 for staying with the company for five years and $3,000 after reaching their 10-, 15- and 20-year anniversaries. Previously, the company gave workers one or two shares of Amazon stock after each of those anniversaries.
“Definitely happier, but we are still losing a bit,” said the Maryland worker of the changes. “But it’s better than it was.”
Travelers’ new program
Travelers and Amazon are joining forces as the insurance industry looks for new ways to find customers online.
Those who buy the home security kits also get discounts on their home insurance policies.
The program is initially available to home insurance customers in California, Colorado, Missouri and Wisconsin. Travelers expects to add more states later this year.
Additionally, all home insurance customers are now eligible for free Echo Dots. Travelers has added Alexa “skills” that can provide information like when an upcoming insurance bill is due.
The company hopes the security devices will reduce risk. By encouraging customers to catch problems early, such as detecting leaks with sensors, the company aims to pay out fewer claims.
“There’s an immediate potential for cost savings,” said James Lynch, chief actuary at the Insurance Information Institute.
The partnership also gives Travelers a new avenue to connect with policyholders. Like many of its competitors, the company wants to better integrate its products into customers’ daily lives.
“One of the reasons we are pursuing this program is we see a continued increase in consumers who want to have a digital relationship with their financial services company,” said Michael Klein, Travelers’ president of personal insurance.
Meanwhile, the Echo Dot can provide the company with valuable data.
In addition to its Alexa skill for customers, Travelers has rolled out another skill that lets anyone — not just policyholders — tap into the company’s property maintenance and home safety tips. This feeds Travelers important information about common questions and concerns.
“One thing insurance companies are very interested in the amount of data that will be generated from the internet of things,” Lynch said.
Working with Amazon is a way to attract customers, too. Travelers says it’s the first insurance company to offer a digital storefront on the platform.
Though people can’t buy Travelers insurance directly through Amazon, a link directs users to the Travelers site, where they can get a quote.
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