Amazon provides job security in a time of uncertainty | COMMENTARY
By Jeff Quinton
For The Baltimore Sun|
Apr 13, 2020 | 6:04 AM
I read a lot of misinformation about working at Amazon before the COVID-19 pandemic but have seen even more since the spread of the virus.
As an Amazon employee for the past six years, I firmly believe Amazon is working to provide safe job opportunities and plays a leading role in helping communities across the country during this challenging time. The team I work with is like a family to me and when things happen inside and outside the workplace, management lets us know that we matter and they care about us.
This is echoed in how employee health and safety is being prioritized now and during normal times when there is no pandemic. Temperature checks for employees to enter the building are being rolled out and mandatory social distancing, extra deep cleaning procedures and other measures are in place. I think now is a great time for anyone looking for work to apply at Amazon; whether they are looking for a source of income during hard times or a fresh start.
With the pandemic causing so many people to lose their jobs temporarily or permanently, Amazon offers a good opportunity to make money at a job is not going away even during this crisis. In Baltimore specifically, where I work, Amazon is hiring 1,100 new employees and up to 1,500 across Maryland, with 100,000 new hires being made across the country.
In addition to the extra pay that employees are receiving right now, benefits start on day one. The benefits, especially the health insurance, are among the best I have ever had and that includes my time as a government employee. Another perk that is often overlooked is Amazon Career Choice, a tuition reimbursement plan that prepays for 95% of an eligible employee’s books, tuition and fees for courses related to high-demand fields, regardless of whether they’re related to skills at Amazon.
I started working for Amazon as a seasonal employee in December 2014 after a job search that lasted 19 months. Today, I am an hourly associate in information technology at an air cargo site in Baltimore. I also worked in information technology at another site in Baltimore and before that I worked over two years as an entry-level associate on the floor of a fulfillment center.
I had been working in digital communications for nonprofits for several years before that. I served in the military and worked at several jobs, but Amazon was the first place I ever punched a time clock as an hourly employee. Now, several years later I have no plans to work anywhere else.
Working at a fulfillment center was physically demanding for someone with an office background, but I adjusted and ended up in a role where I helped train other associates. As soon as I found an opening in IT, I transferred and have been promoted since then. I started working at Amazon while I was in between jobs and ended up finding a home.
Not only is Amazon helping out the community by hiring people right now, Amazon continues to remain active in the areas where they have facilities. Every facility I have worked has contributed to the surrounding community with regular donations to food banks and animal shelters or participation in other charitable giving efforts. That involvement continues now with coronavirus at the forefront.
In a recent letter to Amazon employees, CEO Jeff Bezos stated that his own time and thinking are “wholly focused on COVID-19 and on how Amazon can best play its role.”
One of the actions the company has taken is to establish a $25 million relief fund to aid employees and contractors affected by COVID-19. A donation of $1 million has been given to foundations in the Washington, D.C. area to aid communities affected by the pandemic. In the Seattle area, a $5 million Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund has been created to assist small businesses in the areas around corporate headquarters.
Amazon is also subsidizing two full months of rent for tenants in company-owned buildings. Another $1 million dollars has been donated to a fund to aid members of the Seattle community affected by the coronavirus. Most recently, it was announced that Amazon Cares will be assisting the Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network with the delivery and pickup of at-home testing kits.
I am proud to work for an employer providing job stability and community aid – a comfort in a time of unprecedented stress and fear. Working at Amazon has been one of the best moves I made professionally, and I look forward to many years to come.