Amid the buzz and controversy surrounding Amazon's selection of Long Island City as the site for the online retailing giant's newest headquarters, at least one major group is welcoming the move with open arms.
SEIU-32BJ, the labor union headquartered in New York representing more than 30,000 residential building services workers (including doormen and handypersons), endorsed Amazon's 'HQ2' arrival in New York City, Crain's New York Business reported. It has been claimed that the retail behemoth will bring 25,000 jobs to the Big Apple, with employees making an average annual salary of $150,000.
“Amazon is coming to the most progressive, diverse, union-friendly city and state in the country — a fact that should put to sleep the theory that says we need to kill unions and weaken regulations to attract businesses,” Héctor Figueroa, the union's president, said in a statement: “As New Yorkers we should be proud that HQ2, and the thousands of good union jobs that will build, maintain and secure this complex, are coming to Long Island City because of the talent of our workforce, the vibrancy of our communities and the strength of our public institutions.
“There’s still a lot of input that the new development will need from the city and our community,” he continued, “to make sure Amazon serves as a positive force to strengthen our transit system, fund our public schools and help all city residents thrive. But let’s not forget, New Yorkers are the number one reason HQ2 will be built in Queens. Now let’s show Amazon how we do business here. New Yorkers of all walks of life know how to organize in their workplace and on the street to hold corporations and government accountable.”
Crain's New York Business said that “Amazon's plan to build a 4- to 8 million square-foot complex along the Queens waterfront could potentially create up to 3,000 jobs for [32BJ] members.”
Long Island City has been experiencing growth in the residential real estate market, especially with condos. As CNBC reported, Long Island City has “been deemed one of the hottest spots for young people to live in — and that's helping to drive up residential prices.”
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Mayor Bill de Blasio had recently lauded Amazon HQ2's arrival to the Big Apple, with the latter saying at a press conference: “This plan that we all put together, we are convinced is going to benefit everyday New Yorkers in huge numbers – tens of thousands, and it's going to be something that really transforms people's lives.”
But the decision has generated
controversy, most notably about the approximately $3 billion of tax breaks
the mega-retailer is expected to receive for doing business in New
York—at a time when the city is experiencing an affordable housing
shortage and declining infrastructure such as the subways.
David Chiu is an associate editor at The Cooperator.