Photos: Amazon’s massive fulfillment center

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The Amazon Fulfillment Center in San Bernardino is enormous, 1-million-square-feet in size. To put that another way, that’s about the same size as 50 football fields put side by side. When you walk through the distribution center, you’re surrounded by assembly lines of workers packaging products quickly and efficiently to send off to customers. It’s the closest you can to Santa’s workshop without going to the North Pole. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)

Not so long ago, California and online retail giant Amazon were locked in a bitter conflict over sales tax.  State authorities wanted to implement an online sales tax, but Amazon was bitterly opposed to the idea. That stand-off ended in 2011 when Governor Brown signed a bill that delayed the collection of the taxes for one year in exchange for Amazon dropping an effort for a voter referendum which would overturn an earlier online sales tax law.

Now that the Golden State and Amazon have made up, the e-commerce giant is building giant product distribution centers in Northern and Southern California called fulfillment centers. We visited one of these massive facilities this week in San Bernardino. It opened last year and is in the midst of expanding. (Photos below).

Like other cities in the Inland Empire, San Bernardino is becoming home to more and more of these distribution centers. Why? Cheap land and access to freeways and railroads makes it easier to get merchandise into customers’ hands as fast as possible. You can hear more on tonight’s Which Way, LA?

At an event featuring company executives and a coterie of local elected officials, Amazon officially opened it's fulfillment center in San Bernardino, where employees pack and ship customer orders, from books to toys to power tools. Amazon has two other fulfillment centers in California and has announced plans to open another one in Moreno Valley. After patching up a longtime dispute with California officials over collecting state sales taxes from customers (Amazon will), the ecommerce behemoth is moving into California in a big way. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
At an event featuring company executives and a coterie of local elected officials, Amazon officially opened its fulfillment center in San Bernardino, where employees pack and ship customer orders, from books to toys to power tools. Amazon has two other fulfillment centers in California and has announced plans to open another one in Moreno Valley. After patching up a longtime dispute with California officials over collecting state sales taxes from customers (Amazon will), the e-commerce behemoth is moving into California in a big way. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Lupe Palma is an organizer with Warehouse Workers United. Founded in 2009, it fights to improve the pay and working conditions for workers in the Inland Empire's warehouse and distribution center industry. More than 80,000 people in San Bernardino and Riverside counties now work in such facilities. The WWU says too many of those workers work long hours, receive no benefits, and are often victims of wage theft, not getting paid what they legally should for hours worked. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Lupe Palma is an organizer with Warehouse Workers United. Founded in 2009, it fights to improve the pay and working conditions for workers in the Inland Empire’s warehouse and distribution center industry. More than 80,000 people in San Bernardino and Riverside counties now work in such facilities. The WWU says too many of those workers work long hours, receive no benefits, and are often victims of wage theft, not getting paid what they legally should for hours worked. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
The 1 million sq. ft. Amazon Fulfillment Center in San Bernardino is enormous. That’s about the same size as 50 football fields put side by side. When you walk through the distribution center, you’re surrounded by assembly lines of workers packaging products quickly and efficiently to send off to customers. It’s the closest you can to Santa’s workshop without going to the North Pole. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
The walls of the employee break room in the Amazon Fulfillment Center feature motivational words and slogans. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
The walls of the employee break room in the Amazon Fulfillment Center feature motivational words and slogans. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Beyond the Amazon facility, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have become home to massive corporate distribution centers in recent years for such national retailers as Wal-Mart and Target. The Inland Empire's  advantages are relatively cheap land, local officials hungry for investment, and easy access to freeways and rail lines so that products can be shipped quickly. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Beyond the Amazon facility, San Bernardino and Riverside counties have become home to massive corporate distribution centers in recent years for such national retailers as Wal-Mart and Target. The Inland Empire’s advantages are relatively cheap land, local officials hungry for investment, and easy access to freeways and rail lines so that products can be shipped quickly. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Nasal spray and wipes, just some of the thousands of products shipped out daily at the San Bernardino Amazon facility. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)
Nasal spray and wipes, just some of the thousands of products shipped out daily at the San Bernardino Amazon facility. (Photo by Saul Gonzalez)