Amazon was having official talks with city officials just the day before it canceled the New York HQ2

Business Insider/Jessica Tyler
  • Amazon was still trying to hammer out a deal with New York officials and union representatives, just the day before the company officially canceled plans for its proposed HQ2 headquarters in NYC, Bloomberg reports.
  • Amazon executives, city officials, and union heads reportedly met Wednesday to address “outstanding issues” related to the proposal.
  • A labour union president told Bloomberg that those present at the meeting had “all agreed” to the negotiated terms, so he was “amazed” when Amazon canceled the project.

Amazon was trying to salvage plans for its proposed headquarters in New York City right up until a day before the company officially scrapped the project, according to Bloomberg.

A meeting was reportedly held on Wednesday between Amazon executives, city government officials, and representatives of labour unions to discuss “outstanding issues.” One of the union presidents told Bloomberg that “progress was being made,” so it was that much more surprising to him when Amazon announced on Thursday it was cancelling its plans to build a HQ2 campus in New York’s Queens borough.

“Unfortunately and surprisingly, Amazon abruptly turned their backs,” Mario Cilento, the president of AFL-CIO’s New York State chapter, told Bloomberg. “An opportunity for thousands of jobs was lost.”

City officials, local residents, and labour union representatives reacted to Thursday’s news in celebration.

“Anything is possible,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter. “Today was the day a group of dedicated, everyday New Yorkers & their neighbours defeated Amazon’s corporate greed, its worker exploitation, and the power of the richest man in the world.”


Read more:
Here’s how politicians and tech execs are reacting to the surprise news of Amazon pulling HQ2 from New York City

They’re among the many groups that have heaped criticism on Amazon ever since the company first revealed in November its plans for HQ2: the headquarters would be split between Queens, New York, and Arlington, Virginia.

Among the staunchest critics were local politicians. Many took issue with the terms of the deal involved in bringing HQ2, which promised Amazon billions of dollars in tax breaks as incentive for coming to New York City. City Council members were largely kept out of the loop of the deal, and were outraged that their city was paying such a hefty “ransom” to a multi-billion dollar company.

Labour unions also vocally protested HQ2, taking issue with Amazon’s notoriously heinous working conditions and the company’s opposition to its workers’ unionization efforts.

But at the meeting Wednesday, the “framework of a deal” had been reached to address these issues, a union leader present at the meeting told Bloomberg. New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo – who championed Amazon’s presence in New York with NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio – had reportedly suggested ideas for how labour union’s concerns could be fixed.

“We all agreed to it, and we said the next step was to start drafting language and getting our wordsmiths involved,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of the the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, told Bloomberg. “We all agreed it was a productive meeting, and so we were amazed that Jeff Bezos would decide to just cancel- to announce today that he’s cancelling the project.”

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