Amazon may set up order fulfillment center in Schodack

Building would measure 1 million square feet, need workforce of at least several hundred

SCHODACK — E-commerce giant Amazon may add a southern Rensselaer County warehouse to its rapidly growing network of order fulfillment centers.

A developer is proposing a million-square-foot building off Route 9 near Interstate 90, an area that already hosts a large Hannaford Brothers distribution center.

The proposal currently is before the town of Schodack Planning Board. Two brokers representing developer Scannell Properties did not return a call from The Daily Gazette seeking comment Tuesday, nor did the Rensselaer County Industrial Development Agency.

Empire State Development, the state’s economic development agency, said only that it is “working closely” with Amazon to bring further investments to the state, including this “exciting potential project.”

Amazon’s interest in the site has been cloaked in secrecy. Scannell disclosed it at Monday’s Planning Board meeting after the Times Union published a story pointing out that the square footage of the proposed Schodack facility — 1,015,740 square feet — is exactly the same as other distribution facilities Amazon has built in recent years.

The online retailer has dozens of these sprawling facilities nationwide to ship out goods to consumers.

These order fulfilment facilities are a bonanza of jobs for communities that host them, with 500 to 5,000 employees each. However, the people doing the physical work of packing orders into the familiar smiling Amazon boxes are not highly paid, and their paychecks are hard-earned.

Amazon makes this very clear on the website where it recruits its ever-growing workforce. Unless there are robotic order pickers on site, employees roam a facility as big as 28 football fields, gathering merchandise weighing up to 49 pounds that’s stacked as much as 40 feet off the floor.

The building may get as cold as 60 degrees or exceed 90 degrees, despite climate control systems, Amazon says. Employees are expected to be available for flexible shifts and work voluntary or mandatory overtime so that shoppers can buy what they want when they want. Depending on the technology on site, and the job assignment, employees will stand in one place or walk/climb stairs almost continuously for 10 to 12 hours at a time.

For this work, advertised hourly pay for openings in a northern New Jersey warehouse is $13.35 to $13.85 per hour. 

Farther away from the expensive New York City metropolitan area, the pay appears to be lower. Full-time warehouse jobs in southern New Jersey are advertised at $12.50 to $13 an hour. Salary for a recent part-time opening in suburban Buffalo, New York, was only $12.25 per hour.

Employees do get a benefits package on top of their hourly pay.

Categories: -News-, Business, Schenectady County

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