Amazon is staffing up—again.
One month after initially hiring 100,000 full- and part-time workers across its fulfillment centers and delivery network amid demand brought by the coronavirus pandemic, Amazon is hiring an additional 75,000 employees. The new hires come as the e-commerce giant is ramping up to meet broader consumer needs as more customers shop online due to stay-at-home guidelines.
And that’s not the only change afoot at the online dominator. According to a Wall Street Journal report, Amazon once again is allowing third-party sellers to ship “non-essential” items to the company starting this week. Third-party sellers of items unrelated to health, wellness and cleaning will be able to ship inventory to Amazon, but there are limits on how much inventory they can send to keep room in the warehouse for essential goods, the report said.
As the coronavirus outbreak mushroomed in March—driving consumers out of their schools and workplaces and into their homes—Amazon decided to prioritize essential merchandise such as cleaning products, health care items and shelf-stable food at its warehouses to meet mounting demand. Amazon stopped accepting shipments from sellers that didn’t correspond to the shopping needs dictated by the new virus. This moratorium didn’t benefit the e-commerce giant’s third-party sellers, which account for 58 percent of Amazon’s total sales, the article cited.
The surge in orders has put Amazon in a spot where it needs all the manpower it can get to ship its own items. In June, the tech titan will stop delivering non-Amazon packages via its Amazon Shipping service until further notice. The service , which competes directly with FedEx and UPS, is available in just a handful of cities including New York, Chicago and Los Angeles.
As part of the hiring increase, Amazon said it now expects to invest more than $500 million in payroll increases, up from a previous estimate of $350 million, as it increases employee wages by $2 per hour and doubles overtime hourly base pay.
The hiring of more workers, particularly within Amazon warehouses, comes at a time when some employees are at odds with the company’s handling of the pandemic. On March 31, employees at the company’s Staten Island, N.Y., distribution center, known as JFK8, went on strike over conditions they described as unsanitary after one employee tested positive for COVID-19. Amazon then fired the warehouse manager who led the walkout, Chris Smalls, citing that he violated social distancing guidelines and broke a 14-day quarantine during a time when he was on paid leave.
According to The New York Times, as of April 5, coronavirus cases have sprung up at more than 50 of Amazon’s fulfillment centers across the U.S. A worker at an Amazon fulfillment center in Dallas reportedly tested positive for COVID-19 only one day after CEO Jeff Bezos toured the facility.
“Consistent with our daily processes, the site has undergone enhanced cleanings since the associate’s last day,” an Amazon spokesperson told employees in a letter obtained by Bloomberg.