With more than 230 cities wooing Amazon to build it’s next headquarters in their town, you’d think that the residents and local NYC politicians would be thrilled that the the world’s largest retailer is coming to Long Island City, NY. Think again.
On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio touted Amazon’s arrival as the “biggest private investment in the city and state of New York” combined with the tech giant’s pledge of $5 billion in capital investments and 25,000 jobs. Local politicians slammed the deal that included $1.5 billion in grants, tax breaks, and a permit that would allow a helicopter to land on top of the new headquarters 120 times a year — that’s about once every three days.
Concerns from other local politicians
The deal came together despite concerns from NY’s local, state and federal elected officials.
In a statement, Sen. Michael Gianaris and New York City Council member Jimmy Van Bramer, whose districts include Long Island City, expressed that “offering massive corporate welfare from scarce public resources to one of the wealthiest corporations in the world at a time of great need in our state is just wrong.”
“We were not elected to serve as Amazon drones,” Gianaris and Van Bramer said in the statement. “The burden should not be on the 99 percent to prove we are worthy of the 1 percent’s presence in our communities, but rather on Amazon to prove it would be a responsible corporate neighbor.”
Incoming New York Rep. Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez also expressed concerns saying that the Queen’s community has responded with “outrage” to the news of Amazon’s new headquarters.
In a series of tweets, Ocasio-Cortez criticized the tax breaks New York has offered Amazon and questioned whether the company plans to pay high wages, provide benefits, and hire from the existing community.
We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism.
It’s possible to establish economic partnerships w/ real opportunities for working families, instead of a race-to-the-bottom competition.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
City Council member Brad Lander also shared some concerns:
Problem is not only Amazon’s ULURP-evading assault on LIC, closed-doors #AmazonCuomo process to extract NYS tax breaks, or self-serving, secrecy-requiring bidding process. It’s the whole corporate practice of forcing cities into a war-of-all-against-all: https://t.co/qNuKmwpJqL
— Brad Lander (@bradlander) November 13, 2018
Elected officials, union leaders, and community groups including NY State Senator Mike Gianaris, the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), New York Communities for Change, Align, and Make the Road NY staged a protest at the proposed site of the new Amazon headquarters in Long Island City.
“Our community has been fighting for better infrastructure & more open space in #LIC FOR YEARS,” said Van Bramer on Twitter. “I’m sick of hearing there isn’t enough money for new schools, parks, transportation & affordable housing. $3 Billion should be invested in longtime resitdent, not #AmazonHQ2.”