Amazon has only just officially confirmed its plans to split its second headquarters between Queens (specifically the Long Island City neighborhood) and Crystal City, Virginia (a suburb situated just three miles from Washington DC). But already, one newly elected millennial Congresswoman is leading the local backlash against the e-commerce giant, which secured a staggering $1.525 billion in performance based tax incentives from the Democrat-ruled New York State.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest woman ever elected to Congress, who won her seat following an upset primary victory in the spring over former House leadership member Joe Crowley, is taking a break from her desperate quest to find an affordable Washington DC apartment to stoke public anger against Amazon on behalf of the voters in her district, which includes parts of north-central Queens that are adjacent to LIC.
In a series of tweets published Wednesday, Cortez claimed that residents in her district are "outraged" by Amazon's decision to move to NYC.
We’ve been getting calls and outreach from Queens residents all day about this.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
The community’s response? Outrage. https://t.co/Jl4OIfa4gC
The notion that Amazon will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks while NYC's public infrastructure is literally crumbling before commuters' eyes is an outrage, Ocasio said, adding that "our communities need MORE investment, not less."
Amazon is a billion-dollar company. The idea that it will receive hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks at a time when our subway is crumbling and our communities need MORE investment, not less, is extremely concerning to residents here.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
Amazon has promised to hire 25,000 people to fill well-paid positions with salaries north of $150,000. But has the company promised to hire within the community? And has it guaranteed that workers can collectively bargain? The answers to both of these rhetorical questions is, of course, no.
When we talk about bringing jobs to the community, we need to dig deep:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
- Has the company promised to hire in the existing community?
- What’s the quality of jobs + how many are promised? Are these jobs low-wage or high wage? Are there benefits? Can people collectively bargain?
Displacing working-class people, a phenomenon that has already afflicted much of NYC's outer boroughs and will almost certainly intensify with Amazon's arrival, isn't community development, Ocasio Cortez complained. And investing in luxury condos doesn't equate with community development.
Displacement is not community development. Investing in luxury condos is not the same thing as investing in people and families.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
Shuffling working class people out of a community does not improve their quality of life.
Corporations that don't focus on good health care and providing affordable housing "should be met with skepticism," Ocasio Cortez said.
We need to focus on good healthcare, living wages, affordable rent. Corporations that offer none of those things should be met w/ skepticism.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
It’s possible to establish economic partnerships w/ real opportunities for working families, instead of a race-to-the-bottom competition.
Before signing off, Ocasio Cortez specified that she isn't "picking a fight" with Amazon, but raising important questions about corporations' responsibility to "pay their fair share."
Lastly, this isn’t just about one company or one headquarters. It’s about cost of living, corps paying their fair share, etc.— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
It’s not about picking a fight, either. I was elected to advocate for our community’s interests - & they‘ve requested, clearly, to voice their concerns.
Shortly after her tweetstorm, several other NYC politicians jumped on the bandwagon.
Queens City Councilman @JimmyVanBramer and State Senator @SenGianaris have come out against HQ2 deal:— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@Ocasio2018) November 13, 2018
“The burden should be... on Amazon to prove it would be a responsible corporate neighbor.”
Both announced they will stop accepting real estate developer money last month. https://t.co/XOld5WUDMX
The burden should not be on the 99 percent to prove we are worthy of the 1 percent’s presence in our communities, but rather on Amazon to prove it would be a responsible corporate neighbor.— Sen. Mike Gianaris (@SenGianaris) November 11, 2018
Corporate responsibility should take precedence over corporate welfare.
To compensate New York City for the generous (or, as Ocasio would argue, overly generous) property tax incentives, Amazon has agreed to "payment in lieu of tax" plan through which it will finance "community infrastructure improvements", including a new public school (because we all know how much Jeff Bezos cares about public school funding), workspace for artists and a tech incubator.
The company also promised to "invest in infrastructure improvements and green spaces", though, unless Amazon is planning to chip in for a massive upgrade of the subway, we imagine that, whatever it proposes, New Yorkers will remain deeply unimpressed.
We imagine Ocasio-Cortez's concerns are only the beginning. Expect waves of protests and demonstrations as NYC's vibrant community of mommy-and-daddy-supported SJWs converge on LIC to protest the company responsible for supplying most of their possessions.