Amazon adding 450 corporate and technology workers downtown

Amazon, having blanketed the Chicago area with distribution facilities, now plans to add corporate and technology workers downtown. Meanwhile, some Amazon warehouse workers plan to walk out over pay and working conditions as pressure to complete Christmas deliveries builds. The company said Tuesday it will hire 450 people during the […]

Amazon, having blanketed the Chicago area with distribution facilities, now plans to add corporate and technology workers downtown. Meanwhile, some Amazon warehouse workers plan to walk out over pay and working conditions as pressure to complete Christmas deliveries builds.

The company said Tuesday it will hire 450 people during the next few years at the Loop office it calls its Chicago Tech Hub. To accommodate them, Amazon said it will lease 67,000 square feet at 222 W. Adams St., adding to the 140,000 square feet it occupies in a connected building at 227 W. Monroe St.

“These 450 new roles will join the more than 1,000 corporate and technology employees already working here in Chicago,” Brian Huseman, vice president of public policy at Amazon said in a news release. “Chicago’s many amenities and proximity to outstanding academic institutions continue to attract and develop an incredible talent pipeline. We look forward to continue investing in Chicago and creating exciting career opportunities as we build on our strong relationships with the local community and its leaders.”

The company’s announcement included comments from Mayor Lori Lightfoot praising Amazon’s decision and highlighting Chicago’s appeal in the tech economy.

But Amazon’s growing presence has created controversy here, with some neighborhoods angry about the environmental impact of its operations and frontline workers complaining that management doesn’t respond to concerns.

Warehouse workers organized as Amazonians United Chicagoland said they plan a walkout Wednesday morning at sites in Cicero and in Chicago’s Gage Park neighborhood. Ted Miin, an Amazon employee who supports the walkout, said management has not responded to worker requests for a $3-per-hour raise.

He declined to say if workers are timing the walkout to disrupt last-minute gift deliveries.

Miin said workers in Gage Park make $16 to $18 per hour, while newly hired people in Pullman earn $19.50. The workers also charged that insufficient staffing has made conditions unsafe.

The company did not respond directly to those statements. Spokesperson Barbara Agrait said, “We respect the rights of employees to protest and recognize their legal right to do so. We are proud to offer employees leading pay, competitive benefits and the opportunity to grow with our company.”

It has settled charges filed with the National Labor Relations Board that it illegally disciplined workers here because of a 2020 walkout.

Also, Amazon faces a federal probe into its workplace safety practices. On Dec. 10, a powerful tornado leveled much of its distribution center in downstate Edwardsville, near St. Louis, killing six employees. The retailer has emphasized that workers had little time to respond to the approaching twister, part of a rash of storms in the Midwest and South.

The new hires downtown will include data engineers, business development managers, financial analysts and others who support Amazon Web Services, Amazon Ads, and Amazon Retail, among other teams. Amazon.jobs has further information.

The expanded Chicago Tech Hub is expected to open late in 2022, the company said. It is leasing space in adjoining properties that landlord Tishman Speyer markets as the Franklin.

The expansion is part of an initiative to create 3,000 jobs at tech hubs in Austin, Texas; Chicago and Phoenix over the next few years, Amazon said.

Counting all its operations, from its giant fulfillment centers to its grocery stores, Amazon said it accounts for 36,000 full- and part-time jobs across Illinois.

https://chicago.suntimes.com/business/2021/12/21/22848176/amazon-hiring-corporate-technology-workers-chicago-tech-hub-warehouse-walkouts

Dong Anker

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