Unions’ reaction to Amazon pulling plug on plan for HQ2 in New York
Unions say Amazon can runaway from NYC but not from its responsibilities to workers
Amazon has reportedly abandoned plans to make Long Island City in Queens, New York City, one of its new ‘HQ2’ headquarter locations. Amazon has pulled out due to sustained protests led by local politicians, unions and activist groups, ignited by the $3 billion in tax incentives being offered to Amazon to bring them to NYC.
Christy Hoffman, General Secretary of UNI Global Union said, “I congratulate the New York community groups and unions for taking a stand against corporate give-aways to a company which paid no taxes on its profits for the past two years and has publicly announced its determination to keep a union out of its workplaces. Last year, its profits doubled and but it nevertheless received a tax rebate in from the federal government. That’s an outrage. Unions in New York and around the world want Amazon to negotiate and collectively bargain - not to run away in the face of legitimate demands from the community and its workers. 'We’ll take our ball and go home', is not what we should expect from the world’s most valuable company. “
Both the RWDSU and Teamsters in the U.S. had a message for Amazon – you can run but you cannot hide from your responsibilities to workers.
Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), said, “Rather than addressing the legitimate concerns that have been raised by many New Yorkers, Amazon says you do it our way or not at all, we will not even consider the concerns of New Yorkers – that’s not what a responsible business would do.”
In a quote published after the news of Amazon’s decision broke, George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, said, "New Yorkers made it clear that Amazon wasn't welcome in our city if it would not respect our workers and our communities. Apparently, the company decided that was too much to ask. We are committed to fighting for the rights of workers throughout the Amazon supply chain and supporting their demand for a voice on the job."
Other unions also sent messages of support and solidarity, including Spain’s CCOO, which said, “We want to congratulate the RWDSU and Teamsters on this big success against corporate greed. Yes we can!” and Italy’s FISASCAT-CISL which also acknowledged the contribution of the two U.S. unions for showing fortitude and determination, “Every victory won against Amazon is a victory for the whole union movement and for the workers.”
Unions around the world are united in their commitment to holding Amazon to account.
For the past 5 years, UNI has operated the UNI Amazon Alliance, which brings together unions which are organising or representing Amazon workers around the world.