Assemblymember Burke: Amazon must be held accountable

In the wake of Amazon pulling out of its plans to build a headquarters in New York City, Assemblymember Pat Burke (D-Buffalo) is encouraging fellow New York State officials to examine mega-corporations such as Amazon for anti-competitive practices, burdensome monopolization, and anti-union behavior, and to consider whether they may be in violation of antitrust laws.

“Amazon is the most valuable public company in the world, yet for two straight years it has paid zero federal income taxes, and is regularly accused of inadequately compensating and improperly protecting the safety of its workers,” said Burke.

In 2018, Amazon received a $129 million tax refund, effectively paying a tax rate of -1% on its $11.2 billion in profits.[1] Amazon created a multi-month bidding process for their HQ2 project, pitting cities and communities against each other in an effort to maximize its corporate welfare offerings.

“Amazon has become an extraordinarily powerful corporation, and uses this power to force communities to bend to the will of its board of directors,” Burke continued. “Amazon puts the self-interest of its shareholders above the benefit of the communities and people it employs and claims to serve.”

This isn’t an issue that is limited to Downstate New York. The Tesla-leased Gigafactory 2 in Buffalo has announced that it could cut up to 50 jobs as part of a company-wide workforce elimination. New York State spent $750 million in taxpayer funds to build the facility with Tesla promising 1,460 jobs by 2020, a figure they are nowhere near reaching.[2]

“Corporations have a civic responsibility to their communities and their employees. They utilize public infrastructure and rely on public education to create their workforce. They use the taxpayer-funded bridges and roads to move their products, and rely on public police and fire departments to protect their property.

“I think it is beyond time we call out these massive corporations, and take legal action if need be to protect our municipalities and workers from their harmful, exploitative practices.”