The Seattle skyline changed this summer, when crews finished construction of a new skyscraper on the Amazon campus. Named re:Invent, the 37-story high-rise is the third tallest building on the internet retail giant’s main campus. Checking in at 1.2-million-square-feet, the high-rise can hold up to 5,000 employees.
The opening of re:Invent increases Amazon’s footprint in Seattle to more than 13.2 million square feet of real estate space. In 2012, Amazon announced plans for the structure and construction began in October 2016. When the building opens later this year, it will be home to Amazon employees who work for the company’s cloud computing platform, Amazon Web Services. It will also offer some ground-level retail space.
Since 2018, about 50 members of Insulators Local 7 and some travelers have been on the job. Insulators have logged more than 100,000 hours on Amazon projects in the past year. Local 7 contractors PCI, D&G, Hudson Bay Insulation, Maple Valley Energy Services, K Fox Insulation, Summit, Heckman Insulation and Pinchiff Mechanical were selected to perform a variety of work including commercial insulation, fiberglass pipe covering, duct wrap and grease duct work.
While having a reputation for being non-union in regards to actual company employees, Amazon has a track record of trusting union construction workers to build their facilities. “Amazon continues to be an example of what a private sector business and a union partnership can accomplish and how both can thrive,” said Seattle Building and Construction Trades Council Executive Secretary and Local 7 President Monty Anderson.
Anderson said the thousands of building trades jobs created from Amazon work has helped support the region’s building trades apprenticeships and pre-apprenticeship programs.
“The successful Building Trades Councils have leadership and officers who engage in community outreach to local politicians and business leaders in order to promote community standard issues,” said Western States Conference International Vice President Doug Gamble.
Gamble cited multiple examples where leaders have worked to educate the community on industry issues such as pre-apprenticeship training, local hiring, the importance of living wages, veterans’ assistance programs (Helmets to Hardhats) and going door-to-door during election season to support building trades endorsed candidates. He believes these examples, and a few other factors, have helped the region’s building trades find success.
“The King County Building Trades Council is an excellent example of the benefits of building relationships with business and community leaders and politicians to increase job opportunities, living wages, real training and career paths for the citizens of the community,” Gamble said.
This outreach ultimately led to the building trades first Amazon project, which took place in 1999, when they remodeled 12 floors of a historic Seattle building to create the first Amazon headquarters.
“I never imagined that project was just the beginning of their building boom and those 12 floors would evolve into over 15.5-million-square-feet of office space, built by union construction workers within Local 7’s territory,” said Local 7 Business Manager Todd Mitchell.
Twenty years after working on the first Amazon project, building trades members, including Insulators, attended the Building Trades Thank You BBQ event for the completion of Seattle’s newest Amazon building.
The e-commerce giant hosted a picnic to thank all the men and women who helped make the project a success. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan, an avid supporter of the Building Trades, attended the grand opening and marveled at the building, which forever change the Seattle skyline. She also discussed the importance of apprenticeships.
“I’ve been to some of the training centers and every time I walk away, I feel better about this city and this region,” she said. “We’re seeing people brought into the building trades and given an opportunity.”
The growth of Amazon in the Pacific Northwest is not limited to downtown Seattle. In early April, the company announced plans to begin moving some jobs from Seattle into the suburb of Bellevue, where the company leases over 1-million-square-feet of space. Additionally, The Seattle Times reported Amazon filed an application package to construct a 43-story, 600- foot skyscraper on a site they purchased in Bellevue earlier this year.
While no construction timeline has been set, Amazon’s past record of using the building trades to construct their facilities will likely mean additional work for members on what will be the company’s tallest building located in the city where the company was originally founded.
“It’s with a strong building trades and community support that we will continue to thrive and get awarded projects,” Gamble added.