20200301-bc-warehousing

In this file photo from February 2020, Amazon works to complete work on this "fulfillment center" warehouse, seen from the corner of Landings Way and Petrol Road.

Amazon expects to start hiring soon to fill the bulk of the jobs being created at a four-story distribution center nearing completion just north of Meadows Field Airport.

The e-commerce company said this week it anticipates most of the 1,000 or so positions will open this summer. It has already started hiring upper-level jobs.

Amazon's timing looks good: The warehouse's opening is expected to provide new employment at a time when the quarantine has put thousands of Kern residents out of work.

It appears employee recruitment may actually begin within weeks if the company keeps to the schedule it has shared with county officials.

Amazon says it generally begins hiring most of the employees for its "fulfillment centers" one to two months prior to opening. By that timetable, the company might start hiring for most of the upcoming positions as soon as early June.

The company is finishing installation of conveyors that will move products through the building’s interior, said Al Annan, assistant public works director for the county. If all goes well, he added, the company will receive a certificate of occupancy allowing it to launch in July.

“Their (Amazon officials’) goal is to open in August,” he said.

The company said in December it had hoped to open as soon as this spring. But earlier this week it said its progress has been slowed by COVID-19.

At least 1,000 people are expected to work in the building on the north side of Merle Haggard Drive east of Highway 99. Besides people, robots are also expected to help prepare a wide variety of products for local delivery.

The company has said most of the jobs there will support "order fulfillment." It describes this as "picking, packing and shipping items to customers such as books, small electronics, school supplies and home goods."

Amazon has said it will pay at least $15 per hour to anyone working at the site and offer comprehensive medical, vision and dental insurance starting on the first day of work.

Its local employees will also be able to enroll in a retirement savings program, share paid leave with their partner or spouse and receive prepaid tuition covering most of the cost of courses related to in-demand fields.

The company advised job-seekers interested in working at the new building to check its hiring website, amazon.com/jobs. It said by email the best way to get updates is to text “amazon” to 77088.

Late last year Amazon began hiring senior managers to work at the center. It continues to recruit for advanced positions: Among the positions it posted earlier this month are an injury prevention specialist, an on-site medical representative and a workplace health and safety specialist.

Kern's Board of Supervisors agreed in 2018 to give Amazon $3 million in local tax rebates in exchange for employing 1,000 county residents at an average wage of $31,000 per year at the distribution center. The subsidy package would award the company annual refunds totaling $575,000 for more than a decade.

Follow John Cox on Twitter: @TheThirdGraf.

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(1) comment

Zeppo

Glad we don't have AOC living among us to shut down this Amazon!

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