Niagara Officials Must Block $123 Million Amazon Warehouse Deal
Washington, D.C. — Ahead of an August 10th vote in Niagara, New York, that would hand Amazon nearly $123 million in tax incentives in exchange for a warehouse, a coalition of national and New York-based organizations and labor unions — including the American Economic Liberties Project, Amazon Labor Union, Fight Corporate Monopolies, Good Jobs First, and New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness — are demanding that local officials vote to block the harmful deal.
As their letter to the Niagara County Industrial Development Agency explains, using public dollars to subsidize the expansion of Amazon’s distribution network will only undercut the local economy, harm local workers, and expend precious resources on one of the world’s largest and wealthiest corporations. Research backs up these concerns, showing that another Amazon warehouse will likely have no positive effect on the economic growth of the area, and will instead have a negative effect on the wages of warehouse workers and drivers.
Amazon’s pending deal with Niagra was negotiated largely behind closed doors — without public input. As the Niagra Gazette recently reported, there is significant opposition among members of the community. After uncovering details of the deal, residents are organizing against it, noting again that “it has no benefit economically to the Town of Niagara. It’s a bad idea.”
“This is the latest instance of Amazon using secrecy and corrupt backroom negotiations to foist a harmful deal onto a local community, with the backing of local politicians,” said Pat Garofalo, director of state and local policy at the American Economic Liberties Project. “There’s simply no reason for Niagara, or any locality, to subsidize Amazon’s local business model, which is based on burying small businesses and churning through workers. Instead, officials should be mandating that Amazon pay fair wages and provide a safe environment for its employees.”
“There’s no reason Niagara County taxpayers should be using their money to subsidize Amazon’s opening of another warehouse, which the massive multinational must do to hit next- or even same-day delivery promises,” said Arlene Martinez, Deputy Executive Director & Communications Director at Good Jobs First. “Instead of dumping its tax load onto Niagara area families and small businesses, Amazon should pay its locally hired workers a living wage ($15 is laughable) and pay communities for the wear and tear on roads, the schools that will educate their workers’ children, and to help mitigate the pollution it will generate.”
“Niagara County should not be giving Amazon buckets of money they can ill afford to lose. They have a child poverty rate hovering around 20 percent and they want to give over $100 million to one of the richest men in the world to build a warehouse (that would be built in the area anyway) that will provide pitiful wages and poor working conditions to their residents? County officials need a serious reality check before moving forward with this project. This is not economic development, it is a gross misuse of local tax dollars and county resources and a slap in the face to residents,” said Ron Deutsch, director of New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness.
“Amazon warehouses have become ground zero for corporate abuse, where workers are subjected to poor working conditions and communities become worse off despite Amazon’s lofty promises,” said Helen Brosnan, Executive Director of Fight Corporate Monopolies. “Little notice was given to workers to participate in the hearings to intentionally leave them out. Approving this deal will cost the people of Niagara resources that could be invested back to the community and small businesses instead.”
“Under current law, Amazon should barred from receiving subsidies — they’re violating worker protections, environmental protections and ripping off the public on their tax filings,” said Michael Kink, Executive Director of Strong Economy for All. “Yet, the Niagara IDA is planning to hand them millions of dollars. This case makes it clearer than ever that we need a new law to bar all state and local subsidies to e-commerce warehouse facilities, and we’ll work to pass that in Albany next year.”
Signers of the letter include Office and Professional Employees International Union (OPEIU) Local 153, Amazon Labor Union (ALU), American Economic Liberties Project, Fight Corporate Monopolies, Good Jobs First, New Yorkers for Fiscal Fairness, and Strong Economy for All.
Read the letter here.
Learn more about Economic Liberties here.
The American Economic Liberties Project works to ensure America’s system of commerce is structured to advance, rather than undermine, economic liberty, fair commerce, and a secure, inclusive democracy. Economic Liberties believes true economic liberty means entrepreneurs and businesses large and small succeed on the merits of their ideas and hard work; commerce empowers consumers, workers, farmers, and engineers instead of subjecting them to discrimination and abuse from financiers and monopolists; foreign trade arrangements support domestic security and democracy; and wealth is broadly distributed to support equitable political power.