Outside of City Hall in New York City, protesters representing the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union stood against the city’s decision to let Amazon establish a headquarters in Queens. A major part of their complaint was the online retailer’s policy to only hire non-union employees. When asked during a meeting whether or not Amazon would be willing to let its workers unionize, a representative from the company stated that they would not.
New York City is giving the large online retailer $3 billion in subsidies to establish their headquarters in Queens, but many council members are not sure what the benefit is for the city. Advocates for workers are concerned about Amazon entering the city due to its history of poor labor practices. While the corporation made some promises about funding local schools and other programs, it’s not yet clear whether or not they will follow through with their commitments.
Initial plans for the headquarters show that Amazon is planning on hiring many people living in public housing to work their customer service departments. In total, the online retailer is expected to hire about 130,000 workers in Long Island City and the surrounding areas. The company is sending flyers throughout the area in an attempt to win over public support.
Workers seeking union representation often have a lot of obstacles in their way. The fight to unionize may be easier with support and guidance from legal counsel. Labor rights have diminished during the last few decades, but for certain groups of workers, legal solutions may exist. Attorneys may be able to help workers organize even when they are opposed by some of the largest corporations in the world.