Meanwhile, Founder Jeff Bezos heavily touts tax-deductible “charitable giving”
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos recently spoke vaguely on CNN about his plans to “donate” his wealth while he’s still alive. The interview, full of softball questions, avoided altogether the origins of how Amazon grew its empire and made Bezos one of the world’s richest men.
It is a story full of tax avoidance, small business bullying, worker degradation, monopolistic behavior, and public extraction. Good Jobs First has been chronicling in detail especially that last aspect: how much the company has been able to squeeze from communities under the auspices of “economic development.”
Squeezing communities is a practice Amazon uses around the world. As part of the global “Make Amazon Pay” campaign, Good Jobs First calls on the retail giant to stop drawing money from communities everywhere in order to bolster shareholder profits. Amazon must stop squeezing workers, the planet and the community.
Along with subsidies Amazon has extracted inside the United States – where we have found over $5.1 billion alone – Good Jobs First has also found hundreds of deals internationally where it received subsidies including:
- at least €4.4 million (USD 5.1 million) for a warehouse in Asturias, Spain;
- $2.3 million in 2011 for a call center in Edinburgh, Scotland;
- $1.3 million in 2012 for a warehouse in Sevrey, France, near Lyon;
- €13.35 million (USD 15.6 million ) for a warehouse in Leipzig, Germany;
- €8.95 million (USD 10.44 million) for a warehouse in Fife, Scotland;
- An unspecific amount in Quebec, Canada for workforce development and energy tax breaks;
- An unspecified amount of energy subsidies in Ontario, Canada and likely in France, where leaders halved energy prices to entice Amazon;
- Unspecified amounts in Germany and the United Kingdom for purchasing electric vans;
- Unspecified amounts of savings in Sweden from sharp energy tax cuts for data centers.
Our recent research also identified over 400 facilities in 13 countries that strongly suggest Amazon operations have received public money.
It’s impossible to get the full picture of just how much Amazon receives in state aid and other incentives from countries, both because of a lack of transparency as well as Amazon’s refusal to release that information. Communities should stop paying Amazon to arrive; shy of that, nations and their subnational governments should adopt rigorous online, deal-specific disclosure of subsidy awards (especially for costly energy breaks) and what Amazon promises in return. They should follow through to ensure Amazon delivers, and clawback money if it fails.
Amazon’s growth, which surged during the pandemic, has now come to a screeching halt. The same week Bezos, who remains executive chair of the company’s board, breathlessly claimed he’ll be giving away some of the billions low-paid workers and taxpayers have helped him amass, Amazon announced it is cutting thousands of positions.
On Black Friday, workers, allies and activists across 30 countries will call on governments to “Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes and for its impact on the planet.”
It’s time we stop propping up a company built on squeezing workers, the planet and our communities.
Visit MakeAmazonPay.com for more information.