Amazon begins hiring for hundreds of jobs at its massive new Fresno warehouse

Drone flyover of the Amazon warehouse being built on the southern edge of Fresno

Construction on the 855,000 square-foot Amazon order-processing center began in summer of 2017 and is expected to be completed in June of 2018. The fulfilment center will employ over 1,500 workers.
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Construction on the 855,000 square-foot Amazon order-processing center began in summer of 2017 and is expected to be completed in June of 2018. The fulfilment center will employ over 1,500 workers.

Online retail giant Amazon has started taking applications for hundreds of jobs at its large order-filling warehouse opening in Fresno later this summer.

The company posted on its job-application website amazondelivers.jobs on Saturday that it's hiring for full-time warehouse associates at its new Fresno fulfillment center. Construction began last summer on the warehouse, which occupies more than 855,000 square feet near Central and Orange avenues in southwest Fresno.

Amazon expects to eventually employ 1,500 people at its Fresno warehouse, staffing up to that number over time; the number of workers could balloon substantially during busy seasons of the year, including the pre-Christmas holiday shopping rush. Details about the hourly Fresno jobs and applications are online at amazon.com/fresnojobs. Information on other types of professional positions are at a different website, www.amazon.jobs.

As of Tuesday afternoon, Amazon still had not announced when the center will be open for business. Lauren Lynch, a spokeswoman for the company, said Amazon is aiming for June or July . Lynch added that once a job-seeker provides all of the information on the online application, the hiring process takes a few weeks.

Amazon plans to open a 855,000-square-foot warehouse in Fresno expecting to employ about 1,500 workers when it opens.

Hector Rios, 32, of Selma, said he's looking forward to applying at Amazon because of the company's rapid growth. "I feel like it can be a career there," said Rios, who works at a box company in Kingsburg. "They're growing so quick; they're everywhere." Rios said he used to work at Best Buy's distribution center in Dinuba.

Amazon map 2.JPG
Online retail giant Amazon expects to employ 1,500 people at a new order-filling center that will open in the summer of 2018. Tim Sheehan tsheehan@fresnobee.com

Amazon's West Coast operations director Kelvin Downes said last year that most of the hourly employees in Fresno "will be putting items on shelves, picking items from a shelf, packing it all together to make sure we get the right items in the right box at the right time, and then shipping it out to the customer." He added that Fresno will be one of Amazon's newest generation of robotic warehouses, where robots retrieve merchandise from shelves and ferry it to workers who sort and pack the items for shipping.

The Fresno warehouse will fill orders primarily for smaller-sized goods such as books, electronic devices and toys, the company said.

The website's job posting indicates that the rate of pay for the warehouse associate jobs is $11.75 per hour, but Lynch said pay varies by position and experience. The posting notes that "associates should be open to working voluntary and mandatory extra hours and to working at a fast pace.

"You can expect to handle packages ranging from small envelopes up to boxes weighing up to 49 pounds," the listing states. "You should be willing and able to operate cards dollies, hand trucks and other moving equipment in order to move large quantities of merchandise throughout a 10-12 hour day. … You may be asked to stow and pick items from our racks, which can be approximately 45 feet tall, and sometimes in narrow aisles."

Applicants must be at least 18 years old and have a high school diploma or equivalent.

Amazon also recently updated listings on another of its career websites, amazon.jobs, for management positions as lead fulfillment associates and information technology (IT) positions. The hourly pay for the lead fulfillment associate jobs is listed at $13.55, and the company prefers applicants with a bachelor's degree and previous management experience.

Interest by Fresno-area residents in Amazon jobs has been high since the company announced its plans last year. In January, the company's technology vendor held a three-day job fair that attracted hundreds of job-seekers to a downtown Fresno hotel. Many left disheartened, however, when representatives of JLL told the crowd that they were only looking for people with technical backgrounds to fill about 80 technical and mechanical jobs — and not the expected 1,500 hourly rank-and-file warehouse jobs.

Economic plum

Amazon has been touted as a major "get" for Fresno's economic development efforts, along with a new Ulta Beauty distribution center less than a half-mile from Amazon's site. As a member of the Fresno City Council in 2016, now-Mayor Lee Brand won approval of his Economic Expansion Act that provides generous incentives to companies that create large numbers of jobs in the city.

Under that program, Amazon subsidiary Golden State FC LLC will receive a rebate of 90 percent of future property taxes to be paid on the increased value for up to 30 years, as well as a rebate of the city's entire share of sales taxes paid by the the company on purchases it makes in Fresno. The value of the incentives is hard-capped at $30 million.

Earlier this year, Brand dismissed concerns that Amazon warehouses don't generate enough jobs in many parts of the country to make up for the value of the incentives provided by cities and counties. "Any Fresno high school student can tell you that the addition of 2,500 jobs starting at $15 an hour with benefits at the full operation of the Amazon fulfillment center will increase employment and reduce poverty in the area," Brand told The Bee in March.

That was before Amazon posted the warehouse associate job listing with a pay rate that is almost 22 percent lower than $15 an hour, and just 75 cents higher than California's minimum wage of $11 per hour.

State and federal estimates showed that the average wage of warehouse workers in Fresno County last fall was $842 per week, or about $21 per hour based on a 40-hour work week. By comparison, an economic analysis conducted by the city to evaluate Amazon's potential benefits to Fresno estimated an average wage for Amazon employees of about $26,000 per year, which comes out to about $500 per week – or $12.50 an hour, based on a 40-hour work week.

Tim Sheehan: 559-441-6319; Twitter: @TimSheehanNews.

To apply for Amazon jobs

Amazon is taking applications for full-time hourly warehouse associates for its Fresno fulfillment center online at www.amazon.com/fresnojobs.

Information on other professional positions with Amazon in Fresno is online at www.amazon.jobs and type "Fresno" in the location search field.