Warehouse-related jobs changes in pay, and safety during pandemic

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COVID-19 has increased pay for warehouse jobs in San Joaquin County.

The COVID-19 pandemic and related shelter-in-place orders have led to many businesses temporarily closing, changes to store hours, and the limiting of customers in some stores and locations. 

Businesses that remain open have been deemed essential, such as some fast food restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacies and warehouses. Warehouses continue shipping out packages to online sellers and stocking businesses that remain open.

Companies like Amazon, FedEx, UPS, and Safeway are still open, but stores continue to remain closed and shipping networks have been the busiest warehouses. FedEx is also one of many warehouse companies changing policies during this time.

Amazon, which has locations in Tracy, Manteca, Stockton, has sent out postcards to residents promoting its warehouse jobs promising earnings from $17.25 to $18.40 an hour.

There has been an increase in demand for delivering medications, toilet paper, water, and canned or bagged foods. 

FedEx package handlers have been given a $2 pay increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic, though some workers have quit their jobs in order to stay quarantined and safe from the virus.

Beyond raises, there has been an increase in hiring demand at companies likeSafeway, Amazon, Best Buy, hospitals and clinics, OnTrac, UPS hubs, grocery stores and delivery services because people were laid off in their previous jobs. 

Workers are now faced with either staying home and potentially losing their jobs or continuing to go to work while COVID-19 numbers in San Joaquin County grow.

“They should allow us to go home and take vacation instead of working because it isn’t safe, you never know who can have the virus,” said Somjai Thana, a FedEx worker.

The closures aren’t the only change businesses have seen. 

Thana said at FedEx there has also been more hand sanitizer use than before and less workers. On the Amazon’s company’s blog, it mentions how Amazon has also become stricter with the six-feet social distancing and have been focusing on keeping employees safe and well taken care of if they are diagnosed with COVID-19.

Changes in volume and health safety have been seen in the Tracy local warehouses, where some shipping services have seen a 30 percent increase in package volume for residential deliveries due to higher demands of supplies. 

Workers in these jobs also say the change could be handled better by the companies.

“They should be more caring and careful of all their employees because a lot of managers and such don’t care about how we feel or anything just as long as we show up and get the job done,” said Alec Rodriguez, a former FedEx worker and college student.

There are also students who are working during these pandemic situations in order to pay for their schooling and supplies. 

Despite the lack of care that some warehouses may have shown, students must continue to work in warehouses because other businesses have been closed due to the COVID-19. Students are getting delivery truck driver jobs, warehouse jobs, and delivery services in order to make matters meet.

“I think it’s very dangerous because it puts a lot of other people at risk of catching the virus and they have family too, so that puts the people you work with at risk and their families as well. I get that we have to get the job done but it’s very risky,” said Rodriguez.