Amazon workers perform their jobs inside of an Amazon fulfillment center on Cyber Monday in Robbinsville, New Jersey
Amazon's front-line workers are made up of fulfillment and transportation employees.

KEY POINTS

  • The base pay of fulfillment and transportation workers will be increased to more than $19 per hour
  • Amazon has also expanded its payment access and launched a new career advancement program
  • Warehouse workers in Albany will vote on unionization in mid-October

Amazon has announced it will start paying frontline employees more than $19 an hour, up from $18 per hour, from next month. The announcement came as warehouse workers in Albany, New York, were preparing for a union election next month.

"Average starting pay for frontline employees in customer fulfillment and transportation is increasing from $18 per hour to more than $19 per hour," the e-commerce giant said in a press release Wednesday. Amazon's frontline employees are made up of warehouse workers and drivers.

The company will be spending nearly $1 billion on pay hikes over the next year.

Amazon further revealed that it has expanded its pay access program, Anytime Pay, to allow employees "access to up to 70% of their eligible earned pay – whenever they choose and without fees."

It is also introducing a career advancement opportunities program, which should help "place employees in engineering roles within Amazon Web Services (AWS), working to operate AWS's Dedicated Cloud regions." The program, called Amazon Intelligence Initiatives, aims to provide better career opportunities for 300,000 employees by 2025.

The e-commerce company's announcement came just weeks before a scheduled union election for Albany warehouse workers.

Employees at the Schodack ALB1 warehouse, located southeast of Albany, will vote between Oct. 12 and 17 to decide whether they want union representation at the company, Amazon representatives told CNBC earlier this month.

Organizers at the ALB1 warehouse filed a petition for unionization with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) in August. Kayla Blado, a spokesperson for the agency, at the time said NLRB's Buffalo office had started the verification process to confirm if the employees have obtained a showing of interest, CNBC reported.

Amazon spokesperson Paul Flaningan, in mid-September, said the tech giant was skeptical if Albany union organizers had gathered enough "legitimate signatures" to push through with the October election, while promising to support the workers' right "to have their voices heard."

Problems have been mounting for Amazon amid the upcoming election as federal regulators have moved to force the company to rework its regulations on employees' use of non-work areas.

Just last week, the NLRB's Brooklyn office said in a complaint that the e-commerce company "selectively and disparately enforced a rule" prohibiting workers from posting pro-union signs in non-work areas at its LDJ5 warehouse, one of Amazon's Staten Island fulfillment facilities, reported New York Times.

The agency further noted that Amazon "discriminatorily" applied the rule "against employees who engaged in union activity."

In response, Flaningan said the regulatory agency's "allegations are completely without merit," adding that Amazon was looking to disprove the claims regarding its solicitation policy.