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Central Texas job market buzzing after news of Amazon fulfillment center

Posted at 6:40 PM, Oct 20, 2020
and last updated 2020-10-20 21:27:01-04

WACO, TX — More than 125,000 people work for Amazon across the country. Soon Central Texans will get the chance for their own Amazon experience.

The company will soon open a new fulfillment center in the Texas Central Industrial Park in Waco.

COVID-19 or not, Amazon will arrive in Waco to find a bit of tight job market for employees.

CNN Money got a look inside this Amazon fulfillment center in Windsor, Connecticut, where the day begins with stretching. Why the warm-up? Because Amazon jobs can get rather physical.

"Technically I'm a picker, so that basically means you just literally pick an item up from the pods there and you put it in the tote there," said Todd Peters, an Amazon Fulfillment Center worker.

The jobs can get a little repetitive, and workers are encouraged to move as fast as possible.

"You can't help but think about a warehouse-type factory and not have the idea of a sweat-shop, but it's clearly not that," said Peters.

Mostly, because robots do much of the heavy lifting. However, some on the outside looking in have concerns about the pace of the work.

"There's a lot of pressure on these workers and the time frames they need to get things out," said President of the AFL-CIO of Connecticut Lori Pelletier.

Amazon doesn't deny its focus on efficiency and productivity. The company admits it has high expectations of its workers.

"We have to be profitable, so to speak, so everything is cost-managed from our perspective. A lot of the robotics here is sort of leading toward that to help enhance the experience of the associates," explained Richard Dyce, Operations Director for the Windsor Fulfillment Center.

Amazon says its focus on technology assists workers, along with salaries that start about 1$5 an hour, 60 cents more to work overnights.

Amazon offers its employees a so-called "bucket" of personal time off, which employees call "generous."

"It is definitely going to affect the game some around here," said Josh Finstad, who runs Placements Unlimited, a Waco-based personnel firm.

But once an employee uses up their bucket, former employees say the company frowns on extensions.

Former employees also say if a worker can't learn their job and keep pace within a set amount of time, they could find themselves looking for new work.

That said, driven, upwardly-mobile workers will reportedly find a warm welcome at Amazon.

"I wanted to attain, like, a position where I could move up and, you know, expand my growth and use my mind a little bit more," said Linda Rocher, an Amazon fulfillment worker.

Rocher calls drawbacks here few, with one exception.

"The worst thing about working here is seeing what I packed. I mean, this morning there was this nice coffee maker. I'm gonna go home and order that tonight," she said.

When can Central Texans start applying for these amazon jobs? More than likely sometime in the new year.

25 News hopes specific answers to that question will come Friday when state and local leaders as well as Amazon make their official announcement.