By Marion Gil |Staff Writer|
An Amazon distribution center in San Bernardino now employs 1,400 full-time workers after its grand opening Tuesday, Oct. 29th.
The center was built October last year, but remained unfinished until this year.
The Amazon fulfillment center employed only 700 workers at the time of its opening in October of last year.
“It’s been a steady increase, and we have the space that hopefully soon we’ll hire even more,” said General Manager Jackie Underberg, stated in the San Bernardino Sun.
The opening of the center last year came after San Bernardino’s declaration of bankruptcy.
While the opening of the center was made possible through a redevelopment program that used to take money away from schools and counties, the sheer amount of workers the center employs has helped decrease the unemployment rate in the Inland Empire.
“I think this is going to make a big difference in San Bernardino. I know a lot of people didn’t have jobs, so I’m very excited,” said Amazon employee Ana Ramirez in an interview with CBS.
Despite the doubling of its workforce, Amazon reported that it will need another thousand workers for the holiday seasons, which is when purchases made through Amazon reaches its peak.
This means that even more of San Bernardino’s unemployed will potentially have jobs for the holiday season.
According to the San Bernardino Sun, many of the seasonal workers may stay on permanently as “many of those will become full-time,” said Mike Roth, Amazon Vice President of North American affairs,
According to their website, Amazon pays their workers, on average, 30 percent higher than other retailers while also offering benefits and company stock awards.
Workers immediately receive benefits with a 401K and stock option plans.
Employees who have worked with the company for three consecutive years become eligible for Amazon’s Career Choice program.
The program pays for up to 95 percent of tuition fees for “in-demand” fields such as nursing, computer design, aircraft mechanics, dental hygiene, and other career fields.
The program is intended to aid employees and give them their first step towards their future career goals regardless of whether they intend to build a career at Amazon or in a different field.
This program is unique in that it only offers tuition payments for high paying and in-demand fields according to sources such as the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Another unique characteristic of the program is that it pays tuition fees in advance as opposed to reimbursing costs at the completion of the course.
Amazon hasn’t always treated their employees as well as they do today.
Years ago, Amazon was accused of bad work conditions with no air conditions and overworking being the biggest problems, according to the Huffington Post.
Amazon has worked towards better conditions for their employees, and it shows in the San Bernardino center.
“It was nice actually, they had proper atmosphere control and lower management was over all friendly,” said Conner Androus, a former employee of the San Bernardino Amazon locale.
Amazon’s presence in San Bernardino has helped with unemployment and the city hopes that with the future opening of a center in Moreno Valley, the unemployment rate will drop further.