Amazon to use higher minimum wage to attract local workers

Online retailer has more than 1,000 jobs in Kettering, Wilmington, Monroe

Amazon’s new Dayton/Monroe fulfillment center has hired about 500 employees, halfway to the center’s objective of 1,000 full-time workers, said that center’s general manager.

“How do we plan to get that job creation,”Jane Tschanen asked a Sinclair Community College audience Wednesday at the Southwest Ohio Logistics Conference, which is the Dayton Area Logistics Association’s annual meeting.

Her answer: Monroe workers will start at a $15 hourly minimum wage and will receive the online giant’s comprehensive benefits package on the first day of employment.

Tschanen acknowledged that the jobs goal is a “pretty significant ask in this environment” — a prolonged era of low regional and national unemployment.

“We made headlines last year when we offered a starting wage of $15 an hour,” Tschanen reminded her audience.

Last October, Amazon said the higher minimum will benefit more than 250,000 U.S. employees, plus 100,000 seasonal workers.

That minimum wage — well above Ohio’s 2019 minimum of $8.55 per hour and the federal minimum of $7.25 — will be key to attracting workers, Tschanen said.

The e-commerce giant has also talked of letting employees purchase Amazon stock through a direct purchase program sometime before the end of 2019.

Amazon is adding jobs in Monroe, Wilmington, Kettering and elsewhere across the area and the state.

The Monroe facility will be huge, covering 1.3-million-square-feet. Construction was completed last summer. The center is found near Interstate 75 at 700 Gateway Blvd. in Park North at Monroe.

The site will house employees who will pick, pack and ship larger items such as car seats, sports equipment, patio furniture, gardening tools, kayaks and pet food.

Employees there will join a network of existing fulfillment centers in the Columbus area (Obetz and Etna) and another near Cleveland, at North Randall.

Amazon has been growing at breakneck speed across the nation and in Ohio, where it has created 6,000 jobs in the past seven years and has commitments to add 5,500 additional employees. The bulk of those jobs are in fulfillment operations.

Indirect employment reaches some 15,000 workers, Tschanen said.

The company has invested about $3 billion into Ohio, not only in fulfillment and sorting centers, but in cloud infrastructure, a Northwestern Ohio wind farm and other functions, she said.

In November, the online giant said it would also open a package-sorting “air gateway” at Wilmington Air Park, an airport 40 minutes southeast of Dayton.

The new Wilmington air gateway will retrofit existing space at the Air Park, in buildings F and A. In all, it will take up 1.2 million square feet, covering about 35 acres. The company has not officially said how many jobs will be anchored in the new sorting center.

Closer to Dayton, a distribution center that could start operations at the Kettering Business Park as early as this summer is expected to employ hundreds.

“We have all the right ingredients for companies to succeed in e-commerce here,” Ted Griffith, a managing director at JobsOhio, the state’s economic development organization, told this news outlet late last year.

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