E-commerce and online retail, which were already expanding rapidly over the past decade, have exploded since the start of the coronavirus pandemic a year ago. This trend spiked during the holiday season. To meet this massive increase in demand, internet-based companies like Amazon.com, Inc. have invested in brick-and-mortar infrastructure and hired new employees at a record pace. Amazon is now the second-largest employer in the U.S and the largest on Staten Island, home to four warehouses in the Bloomfield neighborhood on the borough’s West Shore.
One of the 975,000 sq. ft. warehouses is used by retail giant Ikea, and the other three (a 850,000 sq. ft. fulfillment center, a 450,000 sq. ft. “last mile” delivery station and a 975,000 sq. ft. sort center) are leased by Amazon. Together they make up the 200-acre Matrix Global Logistics Park, where construction began in 2016.
These facilities continue to employ over 4,000 part- and full-time workers for Amazon and 200 workers for Ikea, in addition to thousands of temporary jobs during construction.
Most recently, in the middle of the pandemic, up to 75 electricians in Local 3, IBEW were employed by Arcadia Electrical to finish Amazon’s newest facility on Staten Island, its third in as many years.
“Based on the expanded work opportunity and daunting schedule, we hired approximately an additional 20 electricians to get it done,” Arcadia Superintendent Tom Garavuso said.
Arcadia Electrical was contracted by a NECA partner, Preferred Electric based in Bloomingdale, Illinois. The general contractor was Krusinski Construction from Oak Brook, Illinois. The project schedule was August 31 to October 16, 2020, and the on-time completion exceeded the expectations of both Amazon and the contractors, especially considering new restrictions and safety protocols in response to coronavirus.
“As an electrical contractor in Local 3, we are very proud of the Local 3 electricians who stepped up and worked safely, professionally and completed a very unrealistic schedule safely and on time,” Arcadia Superintendent Garavuso said.
Electricians completed the following tasks in less than seven weeks:
- Provided complete conduit raceways and wire for 123 loading docks, including power receptacles, dock lighting, dock controllers, dock fan, dock red/green signal light and disconnect switches at every loading dock door.
- Installed complete conduit and feeders to approximately 22 IDF cabinets throughout the 975,000 sq. ft. warehouse, grounded each cabinet to building steel and provided raceways for cabling.
- Provided security wallfields and completed communication raceways for security to approximately 30 door locations. Each door had card-access boxes, strobe boxes, motion-sensor boxes. Installed camera junction boxes and necessary conduit throughout the facility.
- Provided complete wiring for remote break areas, receptacles, caged areas and water coolers.
- Provided feeders and power drops to the massive complex conveyor system.
- Provided all necessary power, including complete conduit for the main data distribution hub, all power panels, ATS switches and transformers, security guards’ booths, remote trailers for employees and temporary restrooms.
- Installed lighting (480V fixtures) and tested distribution panels and equipment throughout the 975,000 sq. ft. facility.
The Local 3 crew grew to 75 electricians to achieve the demanding work schedule. General Foreman Tony Perselis, Foreman Osiris Hernandez and Project Manager and “A” Journeyman Anthony Callegari oversaw work on Phase One, which also partnered Arcadia with Local 3 signatory contractors Kane Communications and Five Star Electric on installation of the low voltage security and voice/data systems.
As a result of getting the work done right and on time, Local 3 electricians have secured more work opportunities at the site. Phase Two entails additional power feeders for power distribution, including new generators, office rooms, EM lighting (480V) fixtures and power and drops for additional conveyors. Its completion date is scheduled for late spring.
The electrical work on this site was union, but Amazon is more than willing to build non-union and has opposed the unionization of its own workforce.
Changes may be in store soon, with Amazon’s expansion into traditionally pro-union areas and their 1.4 million employees seeking ways to make it a better place to work. The NLRB has scheduled the company’s first union vote since 2014 at their warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, which takes place by mail from February 8th to March 29th.