Article originally posted on Phoenix Business Journal on May 29, 2018
Amazon confirmed the move to the Seattle Times, which reported that many of the team’s 130 employees were part-time workers who started near Seattle’s minimum wage of $15.45 per hour, citing an unidentified employee.
Amazon said the job relocation is not related to Seattle’s newly approved head tax on large employers to fund homelessness services and affordable housing.
Amazon offers a starting wage of $11.25 per hour in Arizona for the same jobs, the newspaper reported, quoting the employee as suspecting the move was meant to cut costs.
The team set the routes for independent contractors who deliver groceries and Prime Now orders. Amazon has a similar center in Orlando, Florida.
Amazon has several warehouses in the Phoenix area and plans to open a new facility in Tucson that will employ 1,500. The e-commerce giant employs around 7,000 in Arizona.
Amazon is among a group of Seattle-area businesses funding an effort to put that city’s new head tax to a vote of Seattle residents. The $275-per-employee tax passed unanimously by the City Council and was signed by Mayor Jenny Durkan after the mayor negotiated a compromise on a lower per-employee tax.
Before the compromise, Amazon had paused construction planning for a Seattle building and said it might consider subleasing out space in downtown’s under-construction Rainier Square tower pending the City Council’s vote.
After the tax passed, Amazon resumed its building planning but said it had not made a decision on whether it would fill the Rainier Square tower with its own employees or find other tenants to assume its lease obligations.
Amazon is Seattle’s largest employer, with more than 45,000 workers in the city. The company hasn’t said how many of those employees might move to its second North American headquarters, for which there are 20 finalist cities.