With Amazon’s stock up more than 50 percent this year, Jeff Bezos’s fortune has skyrocketed by more than $56 billion in 2020 alone. With a current net worth of more than $170 billion, Bezos is one of many billionaires, including Elon Musk, for whom business is thriving during the COVID-19 pandemic.
To reward Amazon’s frontline workers, the company is giving away more than $500 million as part of a one-time bonus scheme. (Employees are set to receive between $150 and $3,000, depending on their role.) This move is meant to offset critiques of the company’s resistance to permanent pay increases for warehouse workers and delivery people, whose pandemic-related wage bump was dropped in May.
Amazon’s workforce continues to grow even as the company swipes away long-standing critiques of its labor practices. In 2018, partly in response to pressure from Bernie Sanders, Bezos voluntarily raised the company’s minimum wage to $15 an hour. But there have been many reports of safety concerns, unreasonable quotas, and dire working conditions in Amazon’s fulfillment centers—problems that have escalated under the threat of contagious disease.
While it’s not clear how these tensions will be resolved, Bezos is one of a handful of tech giants (including Mark Zuckerberg, Sundar Pichai, and Tim Cook) who will testify in an antitrust hearing before Congress later this month. To learn more about how Bezos built his incredible fortune, check out our Instaread Original on Jeff Bezos.