In the wake of a historic labor victory at one of its Staten Island warehouses earlier this month, Amazon is reportedly ramping up its union-busting operations across New York and beyond. Those attempts to crush a union are effectively subsidized by government money in states whose politicians portray themselves as pro-labor.
As Amazon now faces investigations over allegations that it violated labor laws, the company continues to benefit from lucrative subsidies and tax breaks, even though most of these funds are conditioned on complying with regulations, including labor law. In all, the company has received more than $4.1 billion in subsidies from state and local governments nationwide, according to data collected by subsidy-tracking organization Good Jobs First.
In New York, the relationship between public money and Amazon’s union busting is front and center. The company was just found to have illegally fired a worker for speaking out at that Staten Island warehouse two years ago. At the same time, the state and local governments have directed roughly $387 million to the company in direct public subsidies and guarantees — some of which have gone towards construction of the very facilities where workers are now fighting to unionize, according to data collected by Good Jobs First.
Nearly all of these subsidy arrangements stipulate that Amazon must comply with the law — and now an attorney for the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) has filed a complaint asking New York’s Democratic Attorney General to investigate whether Amazon has violated labor laws and thus nullified its eligibility for subsidies. At the same time, a New York lawmaker is planning to offer legislation to stop the subsidy deals and force Amazon to return all of the public money it has received.