SEATTLE — Amazon on Wednesday said it is raising the average starting pay for its warehouse workers and delivery drivers to more than $19 an hour, up from $18 previously, at a time when union pushes continue to spread across several of its facilities.

With the increase, which takes effect next month, Amazon's frontline employees in the United States will earn between $16 and $26 per hour depending on their position and location in the country, the company said.

Amazon is investing nearly $1 billion in the pay increase and other worker benefits, according to the company.

The announcement comes ahead of the busy holiday season for the e-commerce giant, and as rising inflation has more broadly been eroding Americans' take-home pay.

The moves also come as Amazon has confronted labor organizing efforts at multiple warehouses, much of which was borne out of workers' frustration with how the company treated them during the pandemic as well as increased national attention to racial justice and equity.

Workers at a warehouse in Staten Island, New York, made history earlier this year when they voted to form the company's first U.S. labor union. Another union election at an Amazon facility near Albany, New York, is set to take place next month. These workers are seeking to unionize with the same grassroots worker group, Amazon Labor Union, that succeeded in Staten Island.

Through organizing efforts, Amazon workers have been seeking higher wages, job security, improved conditions at facilities and to have more of a voice in their workplace.

In addition to the wage increase, the company said Wednesday that it is expanding its pay access program, dubbed Anytime Pay, to all employees across its U.S. operations. The program provides Amazon employees access to up to 70% of their eligible earned pay whenever they choose during the month, and without fees. Previously, most Amazon employees received their paychecks once or twice monthly.

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