Amazon joined with Gov. J.B. Pritzker and local government leaders Monday to announce it will build fulfillment centers in two south suburbs — Matteson and Markham — creating more than 2,000 full-time jobs.
The facilities will bring to 11 the number of fulfillment centers it operates in Illinois, most of them near Chicago. A fulfillment center is a major hub for Amazon, which also operates smaller distribution centers for “last-mile” service around the region.
The company said the latest facilities, each about 855,000 square feet, should be ready in time for holiday shopping demands in 2021. They are at 7001 Vollmer Road in Matteson and 15924 Western Ave. in Markham.
Mike Flannery, regional director of Amazon Operations, said the operations will employ the latest version of robotics that automate the shipping of smaller items such as books, electronics, small household goods and toys, leaving employees to focus on larger items and other tasks. “We are grateful for the support we have received from state and local leaders who have helped make this project possible,” Flannery said.
A spokesman for Pritzker said no state incentives are attached to the developments. A company official did not immediately reply to questions about local incentives.
“I’m excited to see Amazon increasing their presence here in Illinois and creating thousands of much-needed jobs for our residents,” the governor said. Highlighting the advanced design of the fulfillment centers, Pritzker said they reinforce Illinois’ image as an innovative state, with substantial know-how in technology.
The Amazon jobs, however, are not tech in nature. The company offers a starting wage of $15 per hour and says full-time staff receive comprehensive benefits when they start.
“Amazon’s two new fulfillment centers in Matteson and Markham will serve as an economic engine for Cook County’s Southland,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said. “I am pleased to welcome these state-of-the-art facilities to Cook County and am grateful for the much-needed job opportunities it will bring to the region.”
Labor organizers have frequently criticized pay levels and working conditions at Amazon facilities.
“I understand in the Southland why people would welcome Amazon, but they need to have a sober assessment of what the company represents,” said Roberto Clack, associate director of Warehouse Workers for Justice.
The organization and the nonprofit Center for Investigative Reporting have documented injury rates at Amazon fulfillment centers they characterized as higher than other warehouses. Amazon has said it has an aggressive policy about reporting injuries, no matter how small, that makes comparisons misleading.
“There also have been real issues with hours not being stable and workers not getting 40 hours per week. There tends to be a lot of turnover in these jobs,” Clack said.
Amazon said it is providing $700 million nationwide for employee skills training to help people qualify for higher positions and build careers.
The company said it employs 11,000 people in Illinois. Its other fulfillment centers are in Joliet, Aurora, Crest Hill, Edwardsville, Minooka, Monee, Romeoville, Waukegan and Wood Dale.