Amazon pledges minimum wage of $15 an hour for all U.S. workers

Part-time and seasonal workers will also get the pay deal.

Amazon announced Tuesday it will pay all its U.S. workers at least $15 an hour from next month, amid criticism of conditions for employees.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do, and decided we want to lead,” said Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder and CEO, in a press release. “We’re excited about this change and encourage our competitors and other large employers to join us.”

The company said it was raising its minimum wage, including for part-time, temporary and seasonal employees, beginning next month — and lobbying for a national hike in the federal minimum wage.

“We will be working to gain Congressional support for an increase in the federal minimum wage. The current rate of $7.25 was set nearly a decade ago,” said Jay Carney, senior vice president of Amazon global corporate affairs.

Amazon’s announcement comes as the U.S. labor market has continued to improve, with hourly wages growing and more Americans voluntarily leaving jobs.

The Seattle-based ecommerce giant employs 250,000 full-time workers in the U.S. out of a worldwide total workforce of 575,000. Amazon also said it will offer the minimum wage to “over 100,000 seasonal employees who will be hired at Amazon sites across the country this holiday season.”

The $15 minimum will also cover Whole Foods employees and workers at other Amazon subsidiaries.

Labor activists have pushed for a national $15 minimum wage, known as “Fight for $15,” winning some support from states including California and New York, which have instituted the higher wages. Many states, however, retain the $7.25 minimum hourly wage.

Amazon has a reputation among customers for speed and efficiency, but some employees at its fulfillment centers told NBC News the company prioritizes speed over worker safety.

Dave Clark, senior vice president of operations at Amazon, posted a video to Twitter of him announcing the change to Amazon workers at one of the company’s fulfillment centers.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., recently introduced the BEZOS Act, which is meant to force large companies including Amazon to pay a tax if their workers use social services such as Medicare, food stamps and housing aid.

Sanders held a press conference Tuesday morning and expressed his appreciation of the change.