Wednesday, Amazon announced that it would adopt a $15 minimum wage company-wide, and the news couldn’t have been more welcome for Dallas city councilman Omar Narvaez, who had a prime Amazon announcement of his own last week.
“Breaking District 6 News,” he wrote on Facebook. “Thank you to my colleagues for unanimously approving the following economic development deal for D6.”
That deal? A new Amazon distribution warehouse at Chalk Hill Road and I-30, bringing 1,500 full-time jobs to the area.
In his announcement, he said that some of the provisions of the deal included that 35 percent of the new hires must be local — usually, he said, this would be 20 percent, full benefits for all employees, and an employment plan for hiring formerly incarcerated people.
“I want to also thank Amazon and City Staff for working with me and listening to the community needs,” he added. “Living wages for this area, which is double the unemployment rate of the city and where a very high percentage of people live in poverty is and will be a game changer for many working families.”
His fellow council members were quick to congratulate him, too.
“Omar Narvaez did a great job negotiating with Amazon on its new distribution center in West Dallas,” Scott Griggs said. “Omar demanded 35 percent local hiring and starting wage of $13/hour with an average wage of $15/hour. The average job in West Dallas pays less than $10/hour.”
“Too often we give away economic incentives and receive nothing in return,” Griggs added. “Too often we are told we are asking too much of developers in exchange for incentives. Great to see the economic incentives tied to local hiring and strong starting wage.”
The council voted to give Amazon about $2 million in economic incentives to build the new 100-acre facility. Hillwood Properties will build the shipping hub.
When the news came Wednesday that Amazon would make $15 the wage floor for the entire company, Narvaez was over the moon.
“Our Dallas deal just got even sweeter for working families,” he said.
Narvaez’s efforts for his district haven’t gone unnoticed, either. The relatively new councilman was already making a name for himself in regards to his responsiveness to constituents and his willingness to show up for crime watch meetings and community events when tragedy struck last February in the form of a gas explosion that killed one child and injured several of her family members, and ultimately resulted in the weeks-long evacuation of much of two neighborhoods as Oncor began replacing old cast iron pipe with new pipe.
Narvaez and fellow councilman Adam Medrano, whose district shares a border with Narvaez’s, were on social media to answer constituent questions and holding neighborhood meetings to help those most affected by the evacuation — and kept at it for more than a month.
His hard work resulted in being named Best City Council Member by the Dallas Observer this week, too.
The distribution center, which will open in early 2020, will be one of 10 Amazon facilities in Dallas. A huge shipping hub just opened in Wilmer, across I-45 from the Dallas Intermodal Terminal. Amazon also has a sizeable warehouse near I-20 and Dallas Avenue, and another half-million square foot fulfillment center near J.J. Lemmon Road and I-20.
Still no word, however, on Amazon’s second headquarters site, as prognostication continues across the country.