Amazon taps state for temp workers
By Jim Stafford
TULSA - Amazon.com has reached into Oklahoma for some of the 1,000
seasonal workers it needs to staff its Coffeyville, Kan., shipping
center during the holiday season, luring them across the border with
daily chartered bus commutes that feature televised entertainment.
Every afternoon at 3 p.m., a chartered bus pulls out of the Albertsons
parking lot near E 51st Street and Memorial here and begins the
90-minute, 75-mile trek north to Coffeyville.
"It's a nice chartered bus with a television and VCR so they can watch
movies, things like that," said Lisa Brown, director of operations for
Chicago-based Staff Management.
Amazon.com contracted with Staff Management to hire the temporary
workers it needs to ship the vast quantities of books, electronics,
toys and other merchandise bought by online shoppers during the
Christmas retailing season.
The 45 long-distance commuters from Tulsa arrive at the
1-million-square-foot "fulfillment center" well before their 5
p.m. shift begins, Brown said.
Staff Management also buses almost three times as many temporary
workers to Coffeyville from Joplin, Mo., each day. Joplin is 67 miles
to the east.
"We are busing about 140 people from Joplin," Brown said. "And I
believe we do have some who are driving on their own."
Amazon.com opened the Coffeyville fulfillment center in a former
Golden Books distribution center in 1999, said Doris Scism with the
Coffeyville Chamber of Commerce. The center was expanded from an
original 450,000 square feet to the current 1 million, she said. The
Coffeyville center employs about 500 full-time workers, in addition to
the temporary employees.
Coffeyville's population of about 12,000 requires Amazon.com to look
beyond the immediate area for seasonal workers to meet the holiday
demand. Oklahoma's work force development agency, Workforce Oklahoma,
worked with Staff Management in recruiting the Tulsa workers, Brown
A Staff Management news release said starting pay for employees at the
Amazon.com center is $9.50 per hour for day-shift workers and $10 per
hour for nights and part-time positions on weekends.
Staff Management offered the incentive of a "performance-based" raffle
of a new 2005 Chevrolet Aveo to workers who signed on for the seasonal
jobs. Those who complete their temporary assignments, which generally
end at Christmas, will be eligible for the drawing, Brown said.
This is the second year that bus transportation has been provided for
the temporary workers, Brown said. The Tulsa bus begins its return
trip into Oklahoma after the night shift ends at 1:30 a.m., and
arrives back in town about 3 a.m.
[TELECOM Digest Editor's Note: A large number of Amazon.com workers
also come from Independence, which is about twelve miles north of the
Coffeyville Industrial Park on Sunflower Avenue where Amazon is
located. Amazon is considered one of the major employers both for
Independence and Coffeyville. PAT]