Amazon will oppose any effort to unionize its New York City workforce, despite receiving $3 billion in tax breaks and subsidies to come to Queens, a top company executive said Wednesday.
The disclosure came amid a tense exchange between Amazon VP Brian Huseman and City Council Speaker Corey Johnson at a City Hall hearing.
“No, sir, we would not,” Huseman answered tersely, responding to Johnson’s repeated questions about whether the company would remain neutral if its employees tried to unionize.
Johnson then asked the city’s top economic development official, James Patchett, why he didn’t insist on including a requirement that Amazon remains neutral when it comes to unions as part of the incentives deal.
“We worked out an agreement with the company to work for the first time — a historic agreement — with the building service workers [SEIU Local 32BJ],” Patchett answered, before Johnson cut him off.
“Not all unions, you picked a couple of unions, so some workers are valued and other workers are not valued,” Johnson shot back. “Some workers, against other workers, which isn’t right.”
Protesters twice interrupted the hearing, unfurling giant banners that read, “Amazon delivers lies” and “amazon fuels I.C.E. deportations,” referencing the work the company does for federal immigration authorities.
Another vocal critic of the project, Councilmember Jimmy Van Bramer, piled on when order was restored.
“Shame on you, shame on you,” said Van Bramer, who represents Long Island City, where the new Amazon campus would be located.
“It’s a union-busting deal from the beginning.”
Amazon’s position was awkward for Local 32BJ and the Building Trades, two powerful unions that support the company and are closely aligned with the two men who struck the deal: Mayor Bill de Blasio and Gov. Andrew Cuomo.
The two unions sidestepped questions after the hearing.
“As a union, we also believe that the right to organize and collectively bargain needs to be respected and as such, we support these multiple efforts carried out [by] all kinds of unions and community organizations in New York and elsewhere,” said Hector Figueroa, president of 32BJ SEIU, in response to questions from The Post.
The Building Trades union said “our first obligation” is to its members.
Under the terms of the deal, Amazon scored $2.5 billion in tax incentives and $500 million in state subsidies in exchange for building a new campus and bringing 25,000 jobs to the city.
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