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Amazon abandons New York headquarters rather than respect worker rights

15 Feb 2019
After an immense backlash from labour and community groups, Amazon has cancelled plans to build its second headquarters in New York City.

Since autumn 2017 Amazon has been on a prolonged search for the site of its second headquarters, forcing a chain of US cities into a bidding war to present the most attractive corporate welfare package. In November 2018 the company announced it had settled on New York, after city and state authorities offered around $3 billion in tax credits and public subsidies.

The decision was met with strong opposition from New Yorkers, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters which represents thousands workers in the city. Critics of the plan pointed to Amazon’s deplorable labour standards and persistent refusal to recognise trade union rights, and questioned why one of the world’s largest businesses should simultaneously benefit from tax avoidance and corporate welfare. The Teamsters demanded that Amazon agree to a fair process for its workers to form unions before the headquarters could move forward. 

On 14 February, Amazon announced that it would not be proceeding with its second headquarters in New York.

Stephen Cotton, ITF general secretary, said: “The fact that Amazon would rather drop its headquarters plan than respect the rights of its workers shows how deplorably anti-union this company is. Amazon is guilty of some of the worst practices in the global economy, combining a total contempt for its workforce with an equal contempt for paying its way through taxation.”

“The Teamsters and their allies in the US labour movement have done great work in holding the line against corporate welfare. If Amazon wants to clean up its reputation then the lessons are clear: respect the basic trade union rights of your workers and stop freeloading on taxpayers’ money.”

ITF supports the alliance of labour organisations, including the ITUC and UNI Global Union, dedicated to winning trade union rights for Amazon workers.

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