TODAY'S PAPER
Good Morning
Good Morning
Business

Amazon agrees to use 100% union labor to build Syosset warehouse

The warehouse at the old Cerro Wire property

The warehouse at the old Cerro Wire property is among at least nine warehouses that the behemoth retailer plans for Long Island to deliver packages to customers' doorsteps. Credit: Newsday/Karen Wiles Stabile

The Amazon "last-mile" warehouse going up in Syosset will be built by about 250 workers — all of them members of unions, officials announced Friday.

The $72-million project is among at least nine warehouses that Amazon plans for Long Island to deliver packages to customers’ doorsteps. The behemoth retailer will rent the 204,000-square-foot building in Syosset from two developers.

"Amazon will be using 100% union labor during the construction," according to a statement from Nassau County and labor officials. "This decision by Amazon is a huge victory for…Long Island’s building construction trades and for our economy."

The statement was issued by Nassau County Executive Laura Curran, who is seeking reelection in November; Richard Kessel, chairman of the county’s Industrial Development Agency, which awarded tax breaks to the warehouse developer and Amazon, and Matthew Aracich, president of the union umbrella group Nassau-Suffolk Building and Construction Trades Council.

The announcement follows intense lobbying by the building trades council. At last month’s Nassau IDA meeting, representatives of Local 361 of the Ironworkers’ union expressed concern that some of the warehouse work would go to out-of-state and nonunion contractors.

John Cush, a business agent for the Ironworkers’ union, called on the IDA to rescind the tax breaks granted to Amazon and developer Syosset Park Development LLC "until Amazon follows the rules." The tax aid is valued at about $11.5 million, including $8 million off property taxes over 15 years, records show.

Representatives of Amazon and Syosset Park didn't immediately respond to requests for comment.

Up to 250 construction workers will be employed on the Amazon project, according to its application for IDA tax breaks.

Once the facility opens, 150 managers and package handlers will be employed, earning $60,000 per year and at least $15 per hour, respectively. Also, several hundred jobs will be created by the independent transportation companies whose van drivers will pick up packages for delivery, the application states.

"Coming out of COVID, many in our construction workforce need jobs," the IDA's Kessel told Newsday. "Because of this agreement with Amazon, they will have jobs and they will spend money, which is good for the local economy."

He said Amazon, which has opposed efforts to unionize its warehouse personnel, "was open from the start to speaking with the building trades...Both sides compromised on several issues to get this done."

IDAs cannot require the recipients of tax breaks to use unionized construction workers — but they can strongly encourage, Kessel said.

The warehouse will be on the old Cerro Wire property, which has been the subject of multiple proposals over 40 years — all of which died in the face of community opposition.

Another local warehouse project has drawn the ire of unions because some of the work is being performed by out-of-state contractors and individuals.

The unions have asked the Suffolk County IDA to cancel tax breaks given to Hartz Mountain Industries Inc. for warehouses on the site of the former Newsday headquarters in Melville. The controversy has stalled Hartz's request for IDA aid for a proposed warehouse on Spagnoli Road, also in Melville.

More news