The Amazon fulfillment center in Dallas, Texas is a sizable departure from Darby Griffin's preschool classroom where she's taught for the past three years. With school closed during the outbreak, Griffin recently started working at Amazon as an inbound associate, helping manage new inventory.
"It was a surreal moment after I got my badge and I walked into the building," said Griffin. "It suddenly hit me, that I was moving into a new chapter of my life. I've only ever worked with kids, so this was a big change."
Griffin is hopeful she'll be able to return to the preschool that she loves. It's been closed since March 9th. "These kids are such pure souls, and they deserve the best. It's strange not seeing them every day, and I definitely do miss them."
For now, her new role at Amazon is helping to bridge the gap financially. Griffin is among the 175,000 people Amazon hired into part- and full-time roles to help meet demand during the crisis. "It's important to me to be helping people during this time," said Griffin. The new hires fill a range of roles in the operations that receive, fulfill, ship, and deliver customer orders. "I chose Amazon because I have friends that work for Amazon and they love it," Griffin said.
The jobs pay a minimum $17 per hour through May 30. That's a $2 increase per hour since the start of the pandemic. Also, all hourly associates working in the U.S. operations network will receive double their regular hourly rate for every over-time hour worked each week through May 30, 2020. New employees also receive company benefits on day one, for full-time and some part-time positions.
Amazon is also working to help ensure associates' health and safety. Some of the changes include: staggered shifts to spread out the number of employees entering and exiting the site at the same time; extended paid breaks to ensure people have additional time to practice safe social distancing; and a temporary phone policy change that allows associates to bring their phone on the floor to stay connected with friends and family if needed while they're at work. "I think Amazon is doing a good job cleaning the facilities, and I do feel protected," Griffin said.
"Nothing is more important to us than making sure that we protect the health of our teams, and we've been working around the clock since the early days of the outbreak to make changes to our processes and procure the necessary supplies for this," said Dave Clark, SVP of Worldwide Operations. Clark has shared details of health and safety measures for teams, and provided this update about temperature checks rolling out in facilities worldwide.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Steve Zack was playing professional basketball in Israel. The LaSalle graduate's season, along with the rest of the league's, came to an abrupt end due to the crisis, putting him out of work. He saw that Amazon was hiring and said he "applied for a job to work during this crazy time." He now works at the Amazon fulfillment center in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania. "Even though the coronavirus is shutting down most of the world, Amazon is still getting millions of packages out to the people who don't want to leave their homes to shop."
In addition to the 175,000 new jobs in the operations network, Amazon committed nearly $800 million in increased compensation for hourly employees across the U.S., Europe, and Canada.
Those interested in applying can learn more at amazon.com/jobsnow.