Year 2, Amazon Camperforce 2019

Courtesy of http://www.amazondelivers.jobs/about/camperforce

2019 Update

Disclaimer: “We are not spokespersons or officially affiliated with Amazon in any way. This account is of our personal experience as seasonal employees in the Campbellsville, KY distribution center in 2019.  Subject to change.” 

Intro

There are changes at Amazon Camperforce every year, including locations, start dates, shifts available, and job assignments. The unofficial slogan is “Expect the unexpected.” This is a short update on our 2019 season in Campbellsville, KY. For more info, go back to “Our First Workamper Job, Amazon Camperforce” and “12 Things We Learned at Our First Amazon Camperforce“.

There are also constant changes with Amazon in general. During last years “peak” (the Amazon term for the shopping season between Thanksgiving and Christmas), I believe Amazon added Christmas 2-day shipping for everyone, not just Prime members. This year was the introduction of 1-day Prime in a lot of areas.

Overview

  • Added Phoenix and Chattanooga
  • $15/hour up from $10.75
  • Cap on campsite of $550 (most likely to account for the addition of Phoenix)
  • Reduction in bonus from $1 to $0.50/regular hour or $1.50 to $1.00/overtime hour (this was troublesome but not a deal breaker for us because of the increase from $10.50/hr to $15 per hour. However, definitely affected retention at Christmas neared)

It is my understanding there was changes in the Camperforce admin team. The result was some confusion and overall less communication. This is stressful for returning Camperforce and especially for newbies. I warned you! The three main communications were (see below for a complete list):

  • Alumni applied on February 4th and this was followed by a mandatory Virtual New Hire Event on Feb 15th. This required a good internet connection. It was an informative webinar that required no participation on our part except to listen (unless you wanted to ask a question).
  • Then it was basically RADIO SILENCE until September 6th, when they attempted a new process for the drug screen. Short version: we drove an hour and a half to the nearest Quest for our drug test (we were aware of this when we accepted our summer workamper job). Hopefully there will be some changes in this process next season, so I won’t bore you with the details.
  • We had applied for the EARLIEST start date of November 3rd (later, last year we started on Oct 3rd) but we didn’t receive the VERY IMPORTANT verification of our start date until Oct 16th! This was a new problem this year and a deal breaker for many. We were driving from Idaho, through Colorado to visit family, through St. Louis to visit family with plans to arrive in time for our anticipated start date. Earlier notice WOULD HAVE BEEN APPRECIATED! I warned you.
  • An extension until January 12th was offered on November 25th. This was unprecedented for SDF1 and who knows if it will happen again!
This years swag: Camperforce, “Peak” and a bonus SDF long-sleeve

SDF1 Campbellsville, KY

Since we missed the proposed New Hire event (done at other Fulfillment Centers who were hosting events), we arrived a day early to do our I-9. Amazon now requires this to be done before Indoc, and there were problems with their computer, delaying starts for a few.

Part of Camperforce are the friends you make. We stayed at Heartland RV park again. We were teamed up with 3 people from our group last year. Two of our good friends from last year ended up on night shift.

With the constant expansion of Fulfillment centers, a lot of the familiar faces in management were gone, having moved on to other locations. But the blue badges remembered us and stopped to chat—I even got a hug on our first day!

Campbellsville only 100 Campers vs 200 last year (down from 650 in the past): 20 in front half, 80 in back half and all “pickers” (no stow or pack). We were in “front-half” which is Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs so we didn’t get the weekend shift differential we got last year. (Note: All but TWO of our twenty were returning Camperforce. I don’t know the stats for the back half).

The last big change this season was holding Camperforce until the VERY END of contract date on December 23rd. Typically, there has been an early release around Dec 19-21st, but Christmas falling on a Wednesday and 1-day Prime resulted in a longer season. This was particularly weird for the 20 Campers on the “front half”—again, we worked Mon, Tues, Wed, Thurs. Thursday was the 19th. Many assumed this would be our last day. Instead we were scheduled for 10 hours mandatory on Sunday and our regular 10-hour shift on Monday. It wasn’t a problem for us, since we didn’t have any plans. It was a frustration for some who chose to leave early so they could get home to family before Christmas, forfeiting their bonus (& the extra 20 hrs available x $15 = $300/each). The decreased bonus meant they were only leaving $100/each after tax on the table. Hopefully, Amazon will consider upping the bonus again, because it didn’t do its job of retaining Campers until the very end.

Summary

Our motto is “paid to exercise”. According to my Fitbit (worn on my ankle), I averaged 15-16 miles/day with a max of 19.3. (I’m a fast walker and I was closer to blue badge rate than Camperforce rate).

Overall compensation:

  • Swag (see above)
  • Campground, fully covered by Amazon for almost two months
  • 6 full weeks with partial week at the end (2 days)
  • Bonus totalled $150 gross each
  • 588 hours total
  • Mandatory OT: 30 hours each
  • Voluntary OT: 10 hours for me, 5 for him
  • Voluntary time off: 5 hours for me
  • $10,000 gross

Despite being shorter, this season seemed more challenging than last year. Perhaps because we were in pick the whole time or because we got more mandatory.

For us, our 5 month commitment in Idaho next summer is a factor of whether we return next season. We had to boogie to make it to Campbellsville in time.

Reference:

Link to Roaming About’s Camperforce blog from this season–from the night shift perspective: https://www.roamingabout.com/making-money-on-the-road-amazon-camperforce-in-kentucky/

Emails for 2019

2/1 email announcing this years program

2/4 open to returning Camperforce

2/15 Virtual New Hire Event mandatory info event requiring internet access

2/19 email background check being completed

8/16 email background check again

9/6 email to call 1-800 phone number to schedule a pre-employment appointment for drug testing and I-9 within 45 minutes or email Camperforce for alternate pre-hire steps. We knew when we took our summer job that we two hours from the nearest Fulfillment Center (and not one of our options), so we ultimately drove 1 and 1/2 hours to nearest Quest.

9/8 Quest drug orders expires 9/11 at 3:00 pm

10/16 confirmed start date with shift assignment

10/22 email confirmed mandatory I-9 event at Campbellsville Fulfillment Center

(11/3 I-9 appointment)

(11/4 First day)

11/22 email confirming Camperforce t-shirt size

11/25 email with extension offered

12/16 Email confirming last day

12/17 email confirming Camperforce t-shirts at HR

12/23 Last Day