In a blog post today, Amazon announced plans to offer permanent jobs to around 70% of the 175,000 temporary workers it brought on to meet demand amid a COVID-19-fueled surge. Initially filled as seasonal positions, the company will be transferring 125,000 people to full-time roles next month, as the pandemic-fueled push theoretically dies down.
Those roles will earn workers a minimum wage of $15 and hour (after pushback from lawmakers like Bernie Sanders) and access to some training programs designed to help them work their way up at the company. The full-time jobs will kick in the same month Amazon winds down its $2 an hour hazard pay for workers.
Amazon has been the subject of criticism for its handling of the COVID-19 crisis, including letters from senators and attorneys general aimed at getting a better picture of its worker health policies, along with numbers of employees who have been infected or died from the novel coronavirus.
Another asked the company to offer insight into why the company had fired a number of staff who had been vocally critical of its policies. Amazon has denied any wrongdoing in all of this and insisted that COVID-19 rates among staff are lower than the general population.
This latest move comes amid the worst U.S. unemployment rate since the Great Depression. This week, an additional 2.1 million Americans applied for unemployment, bringing the total up to 41 million since the beginning of the pandemic. Economists are hopeful that reopening sectors of the country will help reverse those figures, assuming that such actions don’t lead to massive spikes in COVID-19 cases and deaths.