- Amazon could be willing to enter into a project labor agreement with local unions for the construction of its Arlington, Virginia, headquarters, ARLNow reported.
- Amazon spokeswoman Jill Kerr told ARLNow that the company, along with representatives from the Baltimore-DC Building Trades and developer JBG Smith, have engaged in initial discussions about the role union labor might play in new construction. Trade union representative Steve Courtien said that he was “cautiously optimistic” about the possibility of a future PLA agreement.
- Amazon is “definitely open to it,” Kerr told ARLNow, but added that the company’s first priority is to finalize the $750 million-plus incentive deal with Arlington County.
There is some support, according to ARLNow, among Arlington’s local leaders for trade union involvement in Amazon’s construction projects, but they might be reevaluating just how far they’re willing to push the company in the wake of the internet retailing giant’s announcement this week that it is scrapping its plans for a Long Island City, New York, headquarters.
Local politicians, activists and at least one federal lawmaker representing a district near the project came out against the $3 billion of tax breaks and other incentives that Amazon would have received as part of the move. Although New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio implied in a statement that Amazon wasn’t “tough” enough to “make it in New York City” and had thrown away an opportunity by bowing out, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo blamed “a small group of politicians” for throwing away up to 40,000 of high-wage jobs and $30 billion of economic benefits for the state.
The National Landing projects that could be covered by a PLA — which dictate labor aspects like wages, benefits and work hours — are renovations to buildings that Amazon is planning to lease, as well as new construction, including a 130,000-square-foot retail and entertainment complex anchored by an Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Government-mandated PLAs are prohibited under Virginia law, but nothing is stopping Amazon from agreeing to one, even though it is receiving financial assistance. While trade unions would be more than happy to oblige Amazon and work under a PLA, there is no doubt that industry organizations like the Associated Builders and Contractors would not favor it. The ABC and other groups that favor open-shop work environments maintain that PLAs often restrict competition and increase costs for contractors that don’t already pay union scale.