The experts tell us what’s wrong with the Amazon deal

Stuart Appelbaum, President Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, www.rwdsu.org | 1/31/2019, 3:32 p.m.
In January, the RWDSU and four community organizations—Alliance for a Greater New York, Make the Road New York, New York ...
Amazon Flickr

In January, the RWDSU and four community organizations—Alliance for a Greater New York, Make the Road New York, New York Communities for Change and Local Progress—conducted a briefing in the RWDSU’s New York City office to discuss our recently released report “What’s Wrong With Amazon.” Elected officials from Seattle and New York and economic experts discussed Amazon’s effect on communities, and what New Yorkers might expect from Amazon coming to Queens to build its new HQ, with the benefit of $3 billion in public subsidies.

The picture they painted was one of a trillion-dollar company that might take a lot more from communities than it gives back.

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson: “Our city and state got played by Amazon. We need to stand for worker justice and transparency in NYC, and the people in our communities, not trillion-dollar companies.”

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer: “The size of these tax benefits is unprecedented and shines a light on the problems with two outdated programs that were meant to attract new business to invest in struggling communities outside of Manhattan. Longtime residents of Long Island City, who made the neighborhood appealing for companies like Amazon in the first place, now stand to see huge rent increases. We need to examine these programs that are giving away over a billion dollars in public money, and work with Albany to reform REAP and ICAP to ensure a deal like this never happens again.”

New York State Senate Deputy Leader Mike Gianaris: “We are creating 90,000 jobs a year in New York City without giving billions to Amazon, and it’s estimated this deal will just add about 2 percent to that total. Three billion dollars could be much better invested in our many infrastructure needs instead of subsidizing the richest corporation on Earth”

New York City Councilmember

Jimmy Van Bramer: “Amazon says this project will be a pipeline of jobs for our city, but we know that may not be true because what we’ve seen and heard about in Seattle. This project will bring in outsiders who could drive up the rents and push out the people that this deal is supposed to benefit.”

Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First: “Since creating its tax-break office in 2012, Amazon has been getting about 20 subsidy packages a year—more than $1.6 billion even before HQ2. And like Wal-Mart, we now know that their deals often include hidden taxpayer costs.”

Seattle City Councilmember Lisa Herbold: “We need a compact that creates new corporate responsibility. Councilmember Mosqueda and I are here because we believe that cities need to stop competing and lay down joint conditions in negotiating. Your efforts here could represent a turning point for negotiating development that is inclusive and accountable.”

Seattle City Councilmember Teresa Mosqueda: “Over 1,000 people a month are moving to Seattle, which doesn’t prevent the city’s economic inequality between rich and poor from exploding.”

Lazar Treschan, of the Community Service Society: “Without investment in our schools and universities to create a tech talent pipeline, subsidizing jobs that real New Yorkers won’t get doesn’t make a lot of sense. We should be subsidizing universal high school internships and our higher education instead, so New Yorkers can compete for the jobs that these development projects are bringing into our communities.”

Amazon’s business model is based on feasting on public subsidies and paying little or no income taxes while mistreating and dehumanizing its workers. That is not what New York needs.