Amazon distribution center hiring thousands of seasonal employees in Tennessee

Amazon distribution center hiring thousands of seasonal employees in Tennessee

October 13th, 2013 by Mike Pare in Business Around the Region

SEASONAL HIRES

Some companies are employing large numbers of temporary employees for the holidays:

Macy's - 83,000

Amazon - 70,000

Walmart - 55,000

Toys R Us - 45,000

Source: Companies

Workers process orders on an assembly line in the Chattanooga Amazon fulfillment center.

Photo by Doug Strickland/Times Free Press.

For some Chattanooga area people looking for work in the soft economy, Christmas has come in October, and they hope it will last long after New Year's Day.

A steady stream of people walked out of Amazon's job staffing agency in Chattanooga last week with a seasonal post at the nation's No. 1 online retailer.

Some of them said they see working through the holidays at the company's Chattanooga distribution center as a stepping stone to catch on permanently with Amazon.

"If they were to have it, I'd like to get full-time," said Gladys Loubier of LaFayette, Ga.

According to Amazon, the company this year is creating 7,000 new full-time jobs in the U.S. In Chattanooga, it's shifting "dozens" of temporary positions into full-time positions. Also, Amazon's Charleston, Tenn., center, which opened in 2011 along with the Scenic City site, is moving more than 50 slots to full-time.

From the Chattanooga facility alone, more than 100 million items have been shipped in the past two years, the Seattle-based retailer said.

Through this year's holidays, Amazon is hiring thousands of seasonal employees in Chattanooga and Charleston, according to the company. Last year though Christmas, the online retailer's total workforce swelled to upwards of 5,000 people in the Chattanooga area.

Kelsey Reno of Ooltewah said last week she's going to work at the Chattanooga warehouse, and she quipped she was going out to buy new tennis shoes.

"It doesn't bother me to be up on my feet all day," she said.

Some Amazon jobs call for standing and/or walking for up to 10 to 12 hours a day.

Reno said the money is good -- many of the temporary jobs start at between $10.50 and $11.50 per hour -- and it offers 10-hour-a-day shifts. She added she has a 10-month-old son and his birthday is coming up as is Christmas.

David Avans of South Pittsburg, Tenn., said he's hopeful his temporary slot turns into a full-time post.

He said he had a couple of businesses he owned which recently shut down, so the Amazon job is a timely one.

Loubier said she worked seasonally for Amazon last year as a "picker," while she'll be in "receiving" during the holidays this year.

"It was hard at first," she said about the work. "There was a lot of walking but I enjoyed it. It's a fun environment and good pay."

Many of the temporary employees actually won't work for Amazon, but rather for Integrity Staffing Group, which has a Lee Highway office. Integrity officials said that workers may be eligible for medical and dental benefits.

Nationally over the holidays, Amazon said it plans to bring on about 70,000 temporary employees, up 40 percent from last year.

Amazon spokeswoman Kelly Cheeseman said recruitment is well under way.

"Hiring is going great," she said in an email.

By the end of the year, the number of people working at Amazon's two local distribution centers will give the Internet retailer one of the region's biggest workforces.

When President Barack Obama visited Amazon's Chattanooga fulfillment center in late July, company officials said it employed about 2,700 in Chattanooga. Charleston was up to about 800, officials said.

Contact Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.