Amazon network to grow by 5,000
by RICK NORTON, Associate Editor
Jul 29, 2013 | 817 views | 0 0 comments | 11 11 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Twenty-four hours before a scheduled stop by President Barack Obama to pitch his economic reform policies during a visit to Amazon’s fulfillment center in Chattanooga, the Internet giant has announced the creation of 5,000 new full-time jobs throughout its U.S. network.

Fifty of the new positions will be added to the 800-strong workforce at the fulfillment center in north Bradley County near Charleston, according to company spokesman Ty Rogers.

Although Obama’s historic visit to Southeast Tennessee — his first since being elected in 2008 — will focus on the Chattanooga facility where he will address the 2,500-member workforce, the company remains high on both centers, Rogers said Sunday.

“We’re thrilled with our teams in both Bradley and Hamilton counties, and are excited to continue hiring,” Rogers told the Cleveland Daily Banner. “We are honored to host President Obama at our Chattanooga fulfillment center which is one of more than 40 fulfillment centers in the U.S. where we employ over 20,000 full-time employees.”

In a company announcement whose contents were embargoed until today, Amazon touted its pay and benefits schedule, including what it calls an “innovative program” known as Career Choice in which it will pre-pay most of the tuition costs for courses related to in-demand fields.

“We’re hiring more than 5,000 people to join our team and help us continue to innovate and serve our customers,” said Dave Clark, vice president of worldwide operations and customer service at Amazon. “We’re focused on sustained innovation across Amazon and want to help our employees succeed — whether at Amazon or elsewhere — so we offer programs like Career Choice where we’ll pay for up to 95 percent of eligible employees’ tuition regardless of whether the skills they learn are relevant to a career at Amazon.”

The company, which has come to terms over the past couple of years with state leaders in Tennessee over the charging of sales tax on its Internet purchases by customers, reports its median pay inside its fulfillment centers is 30 percent higher than most traditional retail positions. The company also offers, beginning on the first day of employment, health care coverage, a 401(k) and company stock awards.

According to the Amazon statement, the company has created “... thousands of jobs across its fulfillment center and customer service networks in recent years.”

In the last year, the company has opened eight fulfillment centers in the U.S.

The Amazon news release points out the 5,000 new jobs now available across the company’s fulfillment network include picking, packing and shipping customer orders “... while engaging with high-end, state-of-the-art technology.”

The company reports fulfillment center network jobs are now available at the following locations: Breinigsville, Pa.; Chattanooga, Charleston and Murfreesboro, Tenn.; Charleston, S.C.; Chester, Va.; Coppell, Haslet and San Antonio, Texas; Hebron, Ky.; Indianapolis and Jeffersonville, Ind.; Middletown, Del.; Patterson, San Bernardino and Tracy, Calif.; Spartanburg, S.C.; and Phoenix.

Amazon’s weekend release also pointed out the company is hiring for more than 2,000 jobs across its customer service network, which include a mix of full-time, part-time and seasonal positions. These jobs are available at customer service centers in Grand Forks, N.D., Huntington, W.V., Kennewick, Wash., and Winchester, Ky.

Few details have been released about Obama’s visit to the Chattanooga center. It is known he will speak at about 1:30 p.m. and his comments will focus on manufacturing and higher-wages jobs among U.S. workers. White House officials have confirmed he will discuss the impact of American manufacturing on sustained economic growth.

According to a weekend story released by The Associated Press, Chattanooga and Hamilton County law enforcement officials have been mum on discussing details to this point. Some of that is because the president’s route is traditionally kept secret until shortly before his arrival at any given city or location.

AP quoted Donna Job, a resident agent in charge at the U.S. Secret Service office in Chattanooga. She pointed to the significance of the president’s visit to the Southeast Tennessee area.

“It’s a big deal for Chattanooga,” she said. “... We don’t get visits. Some cities he goes to a lot, and we just don’t get them.

The Secret Service agent told AP several law enforcement and security agencies are involved in making arrangements and plotting the details for the president’s arrival to Chattanooga and his route to the 1-million-square-foot fulfillment center.

“Obviously, we’re working with the police department, the sheriff’s department and the fire department,” she told AP. “We depend on them a lot for help with this. As a group, we try to meet citizens’ needs and the security of the president all at the same time. We come up with a plan that we all feel comfortable with that serves both purposes.”

According to published reports over the past few days, since the White House announced Obama’s visit, various groups plan to set up near the Amazon fulfillment center in protest against, and for, many of the president’s policies. A few hotter topics expected to get their share of homemade signs include the economy, health care, the national debt, big government, taxation and business regulations.

Obama is the first U.S. president to visit the Chattanooga area since George W. Bush came in 2007.