With the steel skeleton of Amazon’s new fulfillment center and hydraulic lifts looming in the background and an inflatable “fat cat” with his hand around the throat of a construction worker near by, union leaders and pro-labor elected officials, blasted the online retailer for its construction hiring practices at a press conference attended by about 50 people Monday.
“Shame on Amazon, just shame,” said state Rep. Bobby Gibson (D-15th district). “This is disgusting.”
Gibson, whose assembly district includes part of Windsor, and others speaking Monday were critical of what they said was the company’s willingness to put profits over people, especially in the construction trades.
Dave Roche, president of the Connecticut State Building Trades Council, said the company refused to entertain any proposals put forth by organized labor, while hiring out-of-state workers from states with high infection rates and not requiring them to be tested or quarantined. Roche also said that 25 workers on the project had to be removed last week because they were “undocumented.”
Amazon said in a statement last week that it requires its employees, general contractors and all subcontractors to comply with applicable COVID-19 regulations, including executive orders, that allow “workers supporting the construction of critical infrastructure to continue work.”
Roche also suggested that the voters in Windsor remember Mayor Donald Trinks' support for a tax abatement and reduced permit fees that will save the company about $8.8 million over the next several years while the town would realized about $10.5 million in tax revenue over the same period.
Sal Luciano, president of the Connecticut chapter of the AFL-CIO, called on Gov. Ned Lamont, who had supported a project labor agreement between the trades and Amazon that was rejected by the company, to shut the $200 million project down.
Joe Toner, president of the Hartford Building Trades Council, said Monday that union workers had been picketing at the job site for the last two weeks and would continue to do so as long as necessary, and state Sen. Julie Kushner, chairwoman of the labor committee said the company will come under scrutiny when legislators return to work at the state capitol.
“We’re determined to see that this abuse ends,” Kushner said. “We’re going after them in the next session.”
Steven Goode can be reached at email@example.com.
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