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News > U.S.

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's Pro-Workers Organizing Pays Off As Amazon Cancels HQ Plans in NYC

  • Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against Amazon in the Long Island City section of the Queens borough of New York.

    Demonstrators hold signs during a protest against Amazon in the Long Island City section of the Queens borough of New York. | Photo: Reuters

Published 16 February 2019

"New Yorkers... defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world," Ocasio-Cortez said.

A day after Amazon announced it would not be hosting headquarters in New York City, United States, a senior Amazon executive Friday disputed claims raised by Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez that Amazon workers face "dehumanizing conditions" as being untrue and invited her to take a tour of company facilities.

New York Amazon Workers Announce Plan to Unionize

Ocasio-Cortez, a newly elected progressive Democrat who was an outspoken critic of the plans to locate Amazon's second headquarters in a New York City neighborhood near her congressional district, asked on Twitter if Amazon's culture of "strict performance" is "why Amazon workers have to urinate in bottles & work while on food stamps to meet 'targets?' Performance shouldn’t come at the cost of dehumanizing conditions." She cited a September Newsweek story which raised the claims.

Dave Clark, Amazon’s senior vice president of worldwide operations, responded that the claims "simply aren’t true. We are proud of our jobs with excellent pay (US$15 min), benefits from day 1, & lots of other benefits like our Career Choice pre-paid educational programs." He invited her to take a tour of Amazon's operations.

Ocasio-Cortez was among progressive New York Democrats who had objected to the US$2.8 billion in incentives from the city and New York state to woo Amazon to build a new headquarters in the city's borough of Queens. Amazon abruptly canceled the plan Thursday.

Jay Carney, the company's top policy executive, told New York Governor Andrew Cuomo that the world's biggest online retailer would not go ahead with plans to invest US$2.5 billion to build a second head office in the New York City borough of Queens. Carney, a former press secretary for President Barack Obama, told New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio the same shortly after.

Abruptly scuttling its Big Apple plans blindsided Amazon's allies and opponents alike. The company said the decision came together only in the last 48 hours, made by its senior leadership team and Jeff Bezos, Amazon's founder, chief executive and the richest person in the world.

Yet by some measures the decision was months in the making, as community opposition signaled to the company that it was not entirely welcome.

“New York didn’t say no to Amazon. What New York said no to was Amazon’s outrageous terms, which were reached through a secret process with no input from the communities that will be most affected,” Matt Stoller wrote in an Op-Ed for the Guardian, adding that Amazon should be investigated for monopoly power abuse.

"When the community wanted to negotiate, Amazon said 'all or nothing.' They bailed when they didn’t get 100% of what they wanted," Ocasio-Cortez tweeted.

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