Amazon planning 2,500 hires in N.J. as part of overall expansion

Amazon's Fulfillment Center in Middletown

Amazon's Fulfillment Center in Middletown

Amazon plans to hire 100,000 workers in the next year and a half, with 2,500 of them in New Jersey.

While they are not minimum-wage jobs, the pace of work can be very demanding.

As a business, shipping is like real estate: Location is everything. That’s why Amazon has eight fulfillment centers in Pennsylvania, seven in New Jersey, and two in Delaware to deliver to your door as quickly as possible. But John Carr, a spokesman for the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, said the “free” shipping from Amazon comes at a cost.

“Their performance standards are very, very high. When you meet one, they tend to … raise that speed and standard of how many orders you can pick and pull and pack in a certain amount of time. And Amazon tracks that,” Carr said. “I think a lot of these workers get hurt because of the pace that they have to maintain to meet the goals set by Amazon.”

Machinists were behind at least one failed drive to unionize the warehouses. Company spokeswoman Lauren Lynch said Amazon gives warehouse workers the exact same benefits as other employees, including health insurance, retirement plans, paid parental leave, and company stock.

“We respect our associates’ individual rights and have an open-door policy that encourages comments, questions and concerns be brought directly to the management teams, including all the way up to our CEO,” Lynch said. “We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce.”

Most of the new jobs are in fulfillment centers, though they range from entry-level to engineers. The warehouse jobs are listed as paying $13 or $16 an hour.

Greg LeRoy, who directs the nonprofit Good Jobs First, said that’s higher than minimum wage, but still not enough.

“Because we’re so obsessed with taxpayer dollars, one definition we’ve used is: A job in which the wage and benefit package is good enough that a family of three would no longer depend on any social safety net assistance,” LeRoy said.

Amazon has the second highest employee turnover rate in the country, according to a 2013 PayScale survey. Still, with the unemployment rate in Cape May and other South Jersey counties around 10 percent, it’s likely there will be high demand for the new jobs.

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