The first day of a three-day job fair in downtown Fresno Tuesday marked the kickoff for people hoping to find work at Amazon’s huge order-processing center under construction at the city’s south edge.
Hundreds of hopeful job-seekers showed up at the DoubleTree hotel. Some waited outside for hours on a foggy, chilly morning for a chance to apply and interview for work.
But dozens left disheartened when representatives of JLL – the company that works as a vendor to Amazon for technical and mechanical staff – told the crowd that they are not hiring for jobs with Amazon itself. People without a technical background were told they need to apply through Amazon’s recruiting website.
The job fair started at the hotel at Ventura and M streets and will continue Wednesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. The event is aimed at recruiting applicants for about 80 technical and mechanical positions – jobs that are separate from about 1,500 employees expected to be employed when the e-commerce fulfillment center opens later this year. Construction on the 855,000-square-foot building began last summer.
One of the JLL staffers told the waiting crowd the building will open June 3, but that technicians and mechanics are being hired first to prepare for the start of operations. Those who are hired will be employees of JLL – effectively outsourced by Amazon, but working in the Amazon facility.
Amazon representatives said Tuesday afternoon that they cannot confirm the June 3 date, only that the warehouse is set to open this summer. They anticipate hiring their hourly rank-and-file workers in the mid- to late spring, six to eight weeks before the facility opens.
Amazon also sought to temper the disappointment of those who were turned away from the job fair Tuesday. “We’re encouraged by the outstanding interest we saw today in roles connected to the Amazon fulfillment center,” the company said in a statement. “To be clear, these are roles created by a third-party vendor, not Amazon positions.”
The company added that “When we get closer to the date when hiring will begin for 1,500 full-time Amazon roles later this year, information will be available on www.amazondelivers.job. So far, no jobs for the Fresno fulfillment center are listed yet. Amazon has about a dozen human resources and management positions for the Fresno site at another web page, www.amazon.jobs.
Christian Jackson of Fresno said he and two friends, Rocco Giuseppe and Jordan O’Neill, got in line at about 5 a.m., but walked away dejected after hearing that only people with technical, electrical or mechanical backgrounds were being sought by JLL.
“It’s kinda stupid” to announce a job fair for such a limited range of jobs, Jackson said. He was looking forward to interviewing for one of the more general jobs at the warehouse. “I’m just trying to get ahead and move up in the world.”
Jackson said he most recently worked for a sporting goods store. “It’s not hard to find a job, but it’s hard to find a good job,” he said.
Robert Ortiz Jr. arrived at the hotel about 12:30 a.m. to be the first in line. He said he’s hopeful his experience in building and mechanical maintenance will land him a job with benefits.
Job applicants Tia Mouya, left, and Ulyssa Velaquez, right, go over paperwork as they and hundreds of other job-seekers wait in line up outside DoubleTree hotel for the Amazon job fair on Tuesday, Jan. 16. 2017. Velaquez said she arrived at 4 a.m. to get in line.
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Chris Hunter of JLL said the company is taking applications and doing on-site interviews “for the technicians that make the building run.” That refers to people with experience in robotics, mechanical maintenance, conveyor operations and other technical fields.
Hunter said JLL likely will begin hiring a few management positions in February, with a few more hires in March and most in April, all to get the building and equipment ready for the warehouse opening in June.
The technical and mechanical jobs are needed because the Fresno building will rely heavily on technology, especially robotics, for the speed and efficiency required to fill orders. Kelvin Downes, Amazon’s West Coast operations director, said last summer that robots will retrieve merchandise from the warehouse shelves and ferry it to workers who will sort and pack the items for shipping. The robots will “allow us, in some cases, to ship (an order) in minutes rather than hours,” Downes said.
Most of the hourly employees who will work at the Fresno warehouse “will be putting items on shelves, picking items from a shelf, packing it all together to make sure we get the right items in the right box at the right time, and then shipping it out to the customer,” Downes said. He added that the Fresno center will likely handle orders for smaller-sized goods, such as books, electronic devices and toys.
People interested in the nontechnical jobs are being directed to Amazon’s job website at www.amazondelivers.job/.