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Seattle City Council Members Travels To NYC To Speak At RWDSU HQs, Tell New Yorkers They “Have The Opportunity Seattle Didn't” As They ‘Prepare For War’ With Amazon

Published Wednesday, January 9, 2019
by Bryan Menegus/Gizmodo
Seattle City Council Members Travels To NYC To Speak At RWDSU HQs, Tell New Yorkers They “Have The Opportunity Seattle Didn't” As They ‘Prepare For War’ With Amazon

(NEW YORK CITY) - New York’s growing coalition of representatives and lawmakers opposed to Amazon’s plans for a headquarters in Queens gained two new allies who know the company’s effects on metro regions better than most: Seattle Councilmembers Teresa Mosqueda and Lisa Herbold.

Herbold and Mosqueda both appeared at a press event held this week at the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union’s (RWDSU) New York Headquarters to warn of what Amazon’s largely unchecked influence had done to inequality in their home city.

“The gears were already in motion but most of us were oblivious to what was happening,” Mosqueda said of Amazon’s massive growth in 2012. “In Seattle you see the majority of the population that was living who were Low-Income Working Families have been pushed out,” and are now commuting one or two hours to their jobs in a city which saw its housing costs soar to 113% over the national average, the councilwoman stated.

As Herbold succinctly put it, the result is that “Seattle is this Nation’s ‘biggest company town.’”

To some extent Mosqueda and Herbold were preaching to the choir: The first half-dozen or so rows of seats were occupied largely by New York politicians who have publicly butted heads with Amazon and Governor Andrew Cuomo over the plan, which they fault not just for the jaw-dropping proposed subsidy amount, and the secretive process by which the agreement was drafted.

Several of the speakers also took the opportunity to remind the audience of the company’s unfriendly stance towards Unions, its deep and lucrative ties to the Pentagon, its apparent willingness to provide facial recognition software to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), and its gambit of holding jobs hostage in order to torpedo a progressive tax in Seattle that would have funded homeless services.

Greg LeRoy, who serves as the Executive Director of Good Jobs First, described HQ2 as the “fourth largest megadeal in U.S. history,” made more galling by the fact that, through his organization’s research, it seems Amazon has averaged around 20 subsidy deals annually in recent years.

RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum contended that “Amazon’s business model is based on ‘feasting on public subsidies, paying little or no taxes and mistreating and dehumanizing its Employees.’”

Are these familiar points of contention?


Amazon has not massively overhauled its image or practices in the last two months, so there were only two real differences between this press conference and the very first rally held in mid-November after HQ2's announcement: The size of the political coalition willing to stand against Cuomo and Bezos, and the plan on how to wage that battle effectively.

Because realistically, for many New Yorkers unhappy about the prospect of a more gentrified Long Island City and an even less functional transit system, the path forward is as clear as mud.

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