The Democrat Mayor of New York, Bill De Blasio, has blasted the retailer after it reneged on plans to build part of its second headquarters in the city.
De Blasio told NBC’s Meet The Press that the decision was “an abuse of corporate power”.
“Amazon just took their ball and went home,” he told host Chuck Todd. “What they did was confirm people’s worst fears about corporate America.”
— CNN (@CNN) February 17, 2019
Amazon abruptly scrapped its plans for a New York headquarters
In an op-ed for The New York Times, De Blasio said the company had quit at the first sign of a backlash against it moving there.
“Just two hours after a meeting with residents and community leaders to move the project forward, the company abruptly cancelled it all,” he wrote.
It is only three months since the company made the announcement that New York and Arlington, Virginia would be the new locations.
The state of New York had promised incentives worth US$1.25 billion if Amazon could create 25,000 new jobs with an average salary of US$150,000 in the area.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez celebrated Amazon pulling out of New York––But the Governor says it cost the city 25,000 jobshttps://t.co/JAbkqOGCpx
— TIME (@TIME) February 17, 2019
Amazon blamed opposition from politicians for its exit from New York
The retail giant officially scrapped its plans to expand into the New York borough of Queens last week.
In a statement, Amazon said that 70% of residents supported its plans to relocate to New York but “a number of state and local politicians have made it clear that they oppose our presence and will not work with us to build the type of relationships that are required to go forward.”
The company was reportedly able to make a relatively painless exit from the city as it had not yet signed any binding contracts to construct the headquarters. It has no plans to reopen its search for a new headquarters location and will go ahead with the site in Arlington, Virginia.
New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio writes, "Amazon’s path in New York would have been far smoother had it recognized our residents’ fears of economic insecurity and displacement — and spoken to them directly." https://t.co/4dqDBkSUAe
— The New York Times (@nytimes) February 16, 2019
Progressive Democrats have taken aim at Amazon
Not everyone in the Democratic party had welcomed Amazon’s decision to expand into New York, which came after a high-profile and year-long search for a location for its next headquarters. The process had sparked intense debate over whether the company was holding potential locations to ransom and demanding exorbitant incentives.
Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez had broken ranks with party colleagues to condemn the move. “Amazon is a billion-dollar company,” Ocasio-Cortez she tweeted on 12 November. “The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.”
Bernie Sanders, a possible candidate for the Democratic nomination in 2020, had also been a longtime critic of Amazon’s working conditions and wages. “It is long past time you start to pay your workers a living wage and improve working conditions at Amazon warehouses all across the country,” he wrote in a petition to CEO Jeff Bezos. “It is beyond absurd that you would make more money in ten seconds than the median employee of Amazon makes in an entire year.”
Amazon later raised its minimum wage to US$15 an hour, partly in response to Sanders’ crticisms and his threat of introducing new legislation to target the company.
Sen. Bernie Sanders just introduced a bill, dubbed the 'Stop BEZOS Act,' that would tax Amazon, Walmart and other big companies whose workers collect public assistance https://t.co/hzwvJftwmE pic.twitter.com/qgHOmgIvtx
— CNN (@CNN) September 6, 2018
De Blasio said there was no division within the Democrats on the issue. “I have no problem with my fellow progressives critiquing a deal or wanting more from Amazon — I wanted more from Amazon too…They had an agreement with the people of New York City.
“They said they wanted a partnership, but the minute there were criticisms, they walked away. What does that say to working people, that a company would leave them high and dry, simply because some people raised criticism?”