New York, NY – Soon, we’ll all be working for Amazon.
That’s the sobering message DHL driver and Teamsters Local 295 member Anthony Castellena helped deliver this week as part of the newly-formed New Yorkers for a Fair Economy coalition’s efforts to pass the 21st Century Antitrust Act.
“I have a good union job. It provides for me and my family. I don’t have to worry about how to put food on the table or pay bills next week. I have a union, and I don’t have to worrying taking anyone in my family to the hospital and coming out bankrupt — because of the union and what it provides for me,” Castellena said Wednesday morning outside Amazon’s brick and mortar bookstore at 7 West 34th Street. “But our security is in jeopardy. Amazon and other abusive corporations are growing by cheapening delivery jobs.”
The 21st Century Antitrust Act seeks to rein in corporations including Amazon that routinely hurt workers and small businesses in their quest for ever-increasing profits and power. It passed the New York State Senate back and June, but has yet to make it through the Assembly. Senate Deputy Majority Leader Michael Gianaris and Assemblymember Jeffrey Dinowitz are sponsors of the bill.
“[Big corporations] want to pay workers near minimum wage with few benefits to do the job that provides for my family,” Castellena said. “If New York does nothing, we will be all working for Amazon one day. But New York can do something to protect good jobs. Teamsters are proud to be a part of New Yorkers for a fair economy.”
New Yorkers for a Fair Economy [NYFE] is a statewide coalition consisting of labor advocates, community organizations, small businesses and elected officials coalescing around efforts to clear that legislative hurdle. The Empire State hasn’t strengthened its antitrust laws since passing the Donnelly Act — in 1893.
UFCW Local 175 President Shawn Haggerty, who represents 70,000 trade unionists across Ontario, Canada, warned New Yorkers about Amazon’s pernicious abuse of drivers in 2019.
“As we’ve experienced first-hand trying to organize Amazon in Toronto, they do pretty much anything they can,” he said. “Squash workers’ rights, avoid paying more than they have to, contract work out to third parties, and shift work around that suits them — and making sure its own workforce, the hardworking people that helped build Jeff Bezos’ empire, have no sustainable, no longterm employment.”
Former Flatbush small business owner LeRoy Johnson owned a thriving business on Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn for two decades. But then Amazon swept in and forced him out of business, he said.
“Everywhere you look, there are Amazon vans delivering in front of the store,” Johnson said. “That ain’t right. Small businesses are being abused by greedy corporations who don’t care about no one but their profit. We are calling on the Assembly to stand with us to pass the 21st Century Antitrust Act. Big corporations must be stopped.”
LaborPress reached out to Amazon and is awaiting comment.