An Amazon spokesperson didn't respond to a query from HuffPost on Friday asking how much of the Chattanooga workforce is direct hire and how much is temporary. According to the website for Integrity, the company's Chattanooga office is currently taking applications for work at the local Amazon facility, with wages "from $11.50" per hour and "plenty of chances for overtime." Although the positions are deemed seasonal, they come with a weekly paycheck, medical benefits after a week of work and a "fun, fast-paced environment," according to the webpage.In recent years, Amazon warehouses have had paramedics stationed outside on hot days to deal with the inevitable heat-related illnesses (after headlines about that, Amazon decided to install air-conditioning in warehouses) and have reportedly pressured workers not to report injuries that might trigger federal reporting requirements; Integrity Staffing Solutions reportedly forces workers in Amazon warehouses to fight for unemployment benefits even after they've been injured on the job. And serious abuses aside, most warehouse jobs—certainly the vast majority of the temp jobs—are hard physical labor for low pay.
When the facility opened in late 2011, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported that Amazon would have roughly 3,000 temps at its Chattanooga and Cleveland, Tenn., facilities during brisk periods—double the estimated 1,500 permanent employees.
If the president wants to make a point about the deterioration of middle-class jobs in America, an Amazon warehouse seems like a good place. If he's trying to highlight bright spots in the economy, though, it's either an odd choice or a sign things are worse than even I had thought.