NORWICH, NY. — Chobani, LLC is increasing its starting hourly wage to at least $15 an hour.

As a result of the increase, the company’s average hourly rate at its manufacturing plants in South Edmeston, NY, and Twin Falls, Idaho, will be $19 an hour, and the minimum starting wages for employees in New York City, including workers at the Chobani Café, will be $18. The changes will take effect in the first quarter of 2021, the company said.

The current federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour has remained unchanged since 2009, the longest period without an increase since it was established in 1938.

Approximately 70% of Chobani’s workers 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 chief executive officer 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.”

The company has provided special incremental bonuses to all hourly plant employees for the past three quarters in response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. It also is providing a daily childcare subsidy for workers without childcare options due to closed childcare centers and schools.