It’s the end of a rough-and-tumble week, and in at least one aspect of his life and business, Amazon’s billionaire founder Jeff Bezos might be calling it quits.
The Washington Post (also owned by Bezos, lol) reported Friday that Amazon is “reconsidering” its plan to establish a second headquarters in New York City, after local politicians and activists have essentially crapped all over the idea of giving the richest man in the world billions of dollars in subsidies and carte blanche to uproot an entire neighborhood of Queens.
Amazon.com is reconsidering its plan to bring 25,000 jobs to a new campus in New York City following a wave of opposition from local politicians, according to two people familiar with the company’s thinking.
The company has not leased or purchased office space for the project, making it easy to withdraw its commitment.
“The question is whether it’s worth it if the politicians in New York don’t want the project, especially with how people in Virginia and Nashville have been so welcoming,” said one person familiar with the company’s plans.
Essentially, Amazon is sore that the people of New York City are not rolling out the red carpet, because, huh, weird, they don’t trust Amazon at all and don’t like the way the company has circumnavigated normal regulatory frameworks:
In the past two weeks, the state Senate nominated an outspoken Amazon critic to a board where he could potentially veto the deal. City Council members for the second time aggressively challenged company executives at a hearing where activists booed and unfurled anti-Amazon banners.
Key officials, including freshman U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), whose district borders the proposed Amazon site, have rallied against the project. And opponents went door-to-door to warn people in Queens of looming rent hikes and displacement, much as Seattle experienced during the company’s explosive growth there.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, when asked at an unrelated news conference about the back-and-forth over unions, said: “Welcome to New York City. We’re a union town.”
“There is going to be tremendous pressure on Amazon to allow unionization and I will be one of the people bringing that pressure,” he added. “I believe that ultimately that pressure will win the day.”
The Post noted that this is all talk at the moment, and could be a ploy by Amazon execs to put pressure on city officials to start playing ball.
Union leaders immediately jumped on the potential weakness, putting the blame squarely on Amazon for any erosion of the deal. Stuart Appelbaum, President of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), one of the largest unions courting Amazon employees, issued this statement:
If the Amazon deal falls apart, they will have nobody to blame but themselves. A major problem is the way the deal was put together shrouded in secrecy and ignoring what New Yorkers want and need. They arrogantly continue to refuse to meet with key stakeholders to address their concerns, despite requests from New York’s top elected officials to do so. With their long history of abusing workers, partnering with ICE to aid their persecution of immigrant communities, and contributing to gentrification and a major housing crisis in their hometown of Seattle, New Yorkers are right to raise their concerns and opposition to this plan. New Yorkers wont be bullied by Jeff Bezos, and if Amazon is unwilling to respect workers and communities they will never be welcome in New York City.
A spokesperson for Amazon sent Splinter a thoroughly unhelpful boilerplate statement when asked about the Post’s report:
We’re focused on engaging with our new neighbors - small business owners, educators, and community leaders. Whether it’s building a pipeline of local jobs through workforce training or funding computer science classes for thousands of New York City students, we are working hard to demonstrate what kind of neighbor we will be.
Wow. A “pipeline” of jobs. Truly every city’s dream, to have their jobs just pumped on in from the union-busting factory.
Additional reporting by Bryan Menegus