Chobani LLC said the company's starting hourly wage will increase to at least $15 an hour, more than double the federal minimum wage. It is the latest commitment by the Norwich, N.Y.-based maker of Greek yogurts, oat milks, probiotic drinks and dairy creamers to put people over profits with robust employee benefits. The changes take effect in the first quarter of 2021.
As a result of this increase, Chobani's average hourly rate at the company's manufacturing plants in South Edmeston, N.Y., and Twin Falls, Idaho, will be approximately $19 an hour — well above the federal minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. And for Chobani's hourly employees in New York City, including those who work at the Chobani Café in the SoHo neighborhood of Manhattan, the company said it is raising minimum starting wages to $18 an hour, given the region's high cost of living.
Today, approximately 70% of Chobani's employees are paid hourly.
"This moment of uncertainty is a call for us to join together to strengthen communities and support those working tirelessly to make the food on the tables of families across America," said Hamdi Ulukaya, Founder and CEO of Chobani. "Businesses should serve the people and communities in which they operate. Raising our base starting salary is the right thing to do and we hope other businesses, particularly food manufacturers, feel the same as we all work toward rebuilding our country."
Since its founding, Chobani said, it has believed that businesses should take care of their employees first. That belief is best embodied in the robust employee benefits package Chobani created over the years. In addition to full health care benefits and a company-sponsored retirement plan, Chobani said it offers:
- Special bonuses and support for front-line workers. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Chobani has implemented extensive health and safety measures to keep its people and their families safe, including personal protective equipment, meals and increased financial benefits. The company created additional innovative ways to support its employees, including paying special incremental bonuses to all hourly plant employees for the past three quarters, which are continuing, and an ongoing daily childcare subsidy to support those who suddenly found themselves without childcare options due to closed schools and childcare centers.
- Chobani Rewards. An initiative that allows every full-time employee to share in the growth of Chobani over time. It continues to support employees — including new employees — to meaningfully share in the value the company has already created and will create together.
- A new paid parental leave policy, effective in 2017. This offers 100% paid parental leave for six weeks for all full-time hourly and salaried employees. The program extends to all parents for the birth, adoption or placement of a foster child into the home. In addition, the company covers three rounds of IVF and fertility preservation for all full-time employees, including hourly frontline workers.
- A commitment to pay equity throughout the company. All Chobani employees are compensated based on their contributions to the organization, not their gender, race or any other identity. Each year, Chobani conducts a pay equity analysis to ensure that employees in similar job levels are being paid fairly based on justifiable compensation factors such as their tenure and performance, and not on discriminatory factors such as gender and race. Chobani said it is proud that, across all levels, it has concluded employee gender and race do not affect pay. And the company is continuing to conduct pay equity analyses annually to protect this into the future.
To maintain Chobani's fair and equitable compensation practices, the company said it also has established and standardized pay ranges for hourly roles, leading to greater transparency around compensation and setting clear expectations with employees for their growth over time within the organization.