In the small desert city of Fernley, Nevada, workers such as retired couple Ray and Sarann Williams,
work to make sure your Amazon delivery arrives on your doorstep in time for the holidays. Seasonal
employees have flocked to Fernley taking up temporary residence in the small town to assist the online
giant fill its multitude of holiday orders.
The Williamses left their home in Hurricane, Utah, to live for two months in Fernley to work in the
Amazon warehouse. The couple currently lives in their RV and brought along their miniature schnauzer
for company when they are not working. Mr. Williams enjoys both the extra money and the physical
labor that come with the job. This is his second time as a seasonal worker; last year he worked at the
Amazon warehouse in Campbellsville, KY.
Amazon is the world’s largest e-commerce businesses. Every fourth quarter there is a huge sales peak,
netting the company nearly 40 percent of its greater than $34 billion annual revenue. In order to
meet the demands placed by the increase in sales, the Seattle-based company relies on hundreds of
temporary workers in each of its warehouses, 34 in total.
Amazon normally employs approximately 51,000 workers during their normal work calendar. However,
the increased demand of the holiday rush requires thousands of workers, with some of the warehouses
nearly quadrupling their staff during this time. Many of the people hired are part of a group of workers
called “workampers,” or modern-day migrant workers. These people tend to be retirees who spend
some of all of their time living in RVs and taking on seasonal-type work around the country to help pay
for their retirement adventures, although some still take on such work simply for the money.
Most seasonal workers feel Amazon pays a decent salary. In Fernley, this calculates to about $12 an
hour plus overtime, about twice that of the average minimum wage. However, the trade-off is long
hours and repetitive work.
Kelly Andrus is a 50-year-old Fernley resident. She describes the Amazon warehouse as both and a good
and bad place to work. She worked as a seasonal worker about seven years ago. She states she enjoyed
the pay and felt the company cared about safety, but she described the managers as strict and the labor
The work done involves being on your feet for hours, reaching for items high on shelves, packing boxes,
and preparing items to be stored. Many workers have reported losing five pounds their first week of
Increases in hiring during the holidays are a common workplace practice. Amazon conducts recruiting
events to locate workers, and many workers come by word of mouth. In anticipation of the increased
holiday sales, Amazon hires RV residents for three of its warehouses – Fernley, Campbellsville, and
Coffeyville, Kansas. These residents are hired through a program started last year called CamperForce.