Amazon Hub in Newark Is Canceled After Unions and Local Groups Object

on Jul13
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For the second time, plans by Amazon to substantially expand its presence in the New York area have been abandoned after labor and community groups mobilized in opposition.

In 2019, Amazon abruptly canceled plans to build a second headquarters in New York City after facing a barrage of criticism that it did not anticipate. This time, the e-commerce giant was unable to complete a deal for a cargo hub at Newark Liberty International Airport.

The project, which hinged on a 20-year lease worth hundreds of millions of dollars, attracted opposition after the Port Authority disclosed it last summer.

“Unfortunately, the Port Authority and Amazon have been unable to reach an agreement on final lease terms and mutually concluded that further negotiations will not resolve the outstanding issues,” Huntley Lawrence, the Port Authority’s chief operating officer, said in a statement on Thursday.

Advocacy groups and unions involved had said they could not support the lease unless Amazon made a set of concessions that included labor agreements and a zero-emissions benchmark at the facility.

“This victory signals that if Amazon wants to continue growing in New Jersey, it’s going to have to do it on our terms,” said Sara Cullinane, director of Make the Road New Jersey, an advocacy group that had questioned the deal.

Amazon, which expressed confidence in May that the deal would close, expressed disappointment in a statement, adding that “we’re proud of our robust presence in New Jersey and look forward to continued investments in the state.”

Amazon had estimated that the project would create more than 1,000 jobs, though many of those jobs could still be created if the Port Authority awards the lease to another company. Two other companies bid on the project.

“The growth of air cargo and the redevelopment of airport facilities in a manner that benefits the region as well as the local community remain a top priority of the Port Authority,” Mr. Lawrence, the chief operating officer, added in his statement.

By September, the groups led by Ms. Cullinane and Ms. Gaddy, along with other advocacy groups and unions like the Teamsters and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, began to coordinate their opposition. The groups circulated petitions that collected thousands of signatures from residents and staged public events like rallies and a march.

The project appeared to stall after the November timetable for finalizing the lease passed without any announcement.

Amazon has opened air hubs in recent years to move products through its own logistics network, rather than rely on outside providers. It prefers to fulfill customer orders with local inventory, for cheaper, quicker delivery, but when the product a customer wants is not in a nearby warehouse, it will fly the product to meet its shipping promises.



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