This report gives an overview of Amazon’s business model and how it harms workers and communities. It takes a look at the proposed $3 billion in corporate giveaways and highlights key ways that HQ2 would harm New York communities. Finally, it provides concrete ways that elected officials in New York can stop one of the largest corporate giveaways in New York history.
On November 13, Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, and Amazon.com, Inc. announced that the e-commerce giant would seek to build a massive corporate hub (part of what they originally billed as their second headquarters or HQ2) in Long Island City, Queens.
In exchange for locating in Queens, Amazon may receive as much as $3 billion in taxpayer subsidies in the form of tax credits, capital grants, land-use fast-tracking, and property tax abatements.
Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, is the world’s richest living person, and the company he runs is valued at nearly $1 trillion.2 Bezos makes the average annual salary of one of his warehouse workers every 11.5 seconds.
Even without taxpayer subsidies, Amazon’s HQ2 will threaten affordable housing, accelerate gentrification, strap the struggling public infrastructure, and hurt local communities — problems similar to those faced by non-elite communities in Seattle, where Amazon’s current headquarters is located.4
Moreover, Amazon’s predatory business model is built on avoiding taxes, killing smaller businesses, and profiting off the surveillance and sale of customer data. Amazon provides critical data infrastructure that enables the Trump administration’s deportation machine. Most of Amazon's 500,000 person workforce are in warehouses where the company imposes grueling standards, skirts benefits, and discourages unionization.