MIAMI (CBSMiami) – In the run-up to Christmas, Amazon has hired 120,000 seasonal employees to sort, pack and ship millions of orders.
A small percentage of those workers are unlike the others.
Amazon’s fulfillment centers will ship an estimated $50 billion in goods this holiday season. To get it done, the company needs lots of seasonal workers. Enter “camperforce,” a group of nomadic retirees who cluster their mobile homes near certain Amazon warehouses each fall.
Ken Keranen, 72, said he used to work in real estate.
“I wanted to see how that system worked. I thought it would be more robotic and I didn’t know it would be human robots,” he said with a laugh.
Camperforce is being used at four fulfillment centers across the country. The job includes an RV site and starts at $10.75 an hour – enough to fund a nomad’s travels but the work isn’t easy.
“The woman who was right here, in this spot, she couldn’t take it // she just pulled out and said, I’m bored to death and hurting all over,” said Keranen.
Jim Fitzpatrick, 62, who retired from the Air Force, said he doesn’t mind the 13 miles of walking in a typical 10-hour shift. He’s said it’s actually done him some good.
“You know as of this morning I’ve lost 53 pounds,” he said. “It’s definitely a lot of physical work.”
Not everyone at the fulfillment center, however, was there to supplement their income. Dena Nebergall, 36, made her minivan her home when rent became hard to afford.
“Just basic living expenses was taking everything and not able to save up and get ahead to dreams of the future, just basically surviving,” she said.
Nebergall said while she’s thankful for the chance to get ahead, she doesn’t plan to come back next year.