#HQ2SCAM PROTEST PLANNED

December 12, 2018 at 5:00 am

As the New York City Council begins a series of hearings tomorrow on Amazon’s new headquarters in Long Island City, activists will be protesting what they call the “#HQ2Scam” at City Hall’s steps. The National Urban League’s President Marc Morial joins us with perspective.

Aired on December 11, 2018.

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>>> AMAZON HQ-2 AND THE
DIVERSITY FACTOR.
AS THE E-COMMERCE GIANT MOVES TO
LONG ISLAND CITY, WE'RE TOLD
OVER 25,000 JOBS WILL BE MADE
AVAILABLE TO THE PUBLIC.
HOWEVER, MANY ARE CONCERNED THAT
AS THE COMPANY BRINGS IN MORE
JOBS, WILL IT ALSO BRING A
MASSIVE INEQUALITY PROBLEM?
SETTLING ITS HEADQUARTERS JUST
BLOCKS NORTH FROM THE COUNTRY'S
LARGEST PUBLIC HOUSING
DEVELOPMENT, WHERE THE MEDIAN
INCOME FOR A O IS
JUST $15,800.
WILL THE TECH GIANT FIND A WAY
TO SPREAD THE WEALTH AND HIRE
THOSE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY OR
WILL IT ADD TO THE ALREADY
EXISTING DISPARITY BETWEEN LONG
ISLAND CITY'S RAPIDLY GENTRY
FIEING ENCLAVE AND AREAS OF
POVERTY?
AS A PART OF OUR CHASING THE
DREAM INITIATIVE, POVERTY AND
OPPORTUNITY IN AMERICA, WE'LL
TAKE YOU INSIDE ONE
ORGANIZATION'S QUEST TO
DIVERSIFY AMAZON.
THE NATIONAL URBAN LEAGUE HAS
BEEN BRIDGING THE EDUCATIONAL
AND ECONOMIC GAPS BETWEEN
AMERICANS FOR OVER 100 YEARS
NOW.
AND IT'S SET ON DOING THE SAME
FOR THE TECH GIANT.
JOINING ME NOW IS THE LEAGUE'S
PRESIDENT AND CEO MARK MORIAL.
ALWAYS A PLEASURE TO HAVE YOU.
>> THANKS, JACK.
THIS.
BECAUSE THERE WAS SUCH ATTENTION
PAID TO THE NOTION OF WHERE IS
AMAZON GOING TO SET UP THIS
SECOND HEADQUARTERS.
AND WHEN THE DECISION WAS MADE,
THERE WAS A PAUSE ACROSS THE
BOARD, AND YET NOW WE'RE
STARTING TO HEAR SOME CONCERNS
BEING ARTICULATED.
LET ME ASK YOU, FROM YOUR
PERSPECTIVE, THE NATIONAL URBAN
LEAGUE, WHAT ARE THE SPECIFIC
CONCERNS YOU HAVE.
>> WELL, THE SPECIFIC CONCERNS
IS THAT AMAZON IS ONE OF THE
THREE LARGEST ENTERPRISES IN THE
UNITED STATES.
CURRENTLY HEAD QUARTERED IN
SEATTLE, AND IF YOU LOOK AT
AMAZON TODAY, NEITHER ITS BOARDS
NOR ITS SENIOR EXECUTIVE RANKS,
REFLECT ANY DEGREE OF DIVERSITY
WHEN IT COMES TO COMMUNITIES OF
COLOR.
THE GOVERNOR OF THIS STATE, THE
MAYOR OF THIS CITY, CERTAINLY ON
RECORD FOR A LONG TIME IN
SUPPORTING INCLUSION AND
DIVERSITY IN THEIR POLICY, WHAT
WE'RE CALLING ON JEFF BEZOS AND
AMAZON TO DO IS TO MAKE FIRM
COMMITMENTS THAT THESE 25,000
JOBS AND AMAZON'S PRESENCE HERE
IN NEW YORK WILL BE DIFFERENT
THAN ITS PRESENCE IN SEATTLE.
THAT IT WILL REFLECT THE
DIVERSITY OF NEW YORK'S
POPULATION, THAT THERE WILL BE
PIPELINES FOR PEOPLE TO MOVE UP
THE EXECUTIVE RANKS FROM THE
CITY'S AFRICAN-AMERICAN, LATINO,
ASIAN, AND OTHER COMMUNITIES OF
COLOR.
AND THERE'S A PRECEDENT TO THIS,
JACK.
COMPANIES LIKE COMCAST AND
CHARTER HAVE ENTERED INTO
WRITTEN AGREEMENTS IN THE PAST
THAT OUTLINE THE DIVERSITY
COMMITMENTS.
AND WE THINK AMAZON SHOULD DO
THE VERY SAME THING.
LOOK, THIS IS AN UNPRECEDENTED
OPPORTUNITY, BUT IT'S ALSO AN
UNPRECEDENTED SUBSIDY IN TERMS
OF ITS SIZE.
2.5 BILLION IN PUBLIC BENEFITS
TO SECURE 25,000 JOBS.
SO IF YOU BASICALLY AGREE WITH
THE PREMISE THAT QUOTE UNQUOTE
AMAZON CAN BE GOOD FOR NEW YORK
AND NEW YORK CITY, THEN WHAT WE
SAY IS THERE'S GOT TO BE
CONDITIONS ATTACHED, THAT
ENSURES THAT THE COMMUNITY
BROADLY BENEFITS FROM ITS
PRESENCE.
>> HAVE YOU GOT ANY RESPONSE
FROM -- IS IT JEFF BEZOS
PERSONALLY OR AMAZON AS AN
ENTITY?
>> NO RESPONSE YET.
WE'RE HOPING THEY RESPOND TO OUR
H
LETTER AND WANT TO BE PART OF A
PROCESS TO SIT DOWN.
THIS IS THE WORK OF THE NATIONAL
URBAN LEAGUE.
WE'VE WORKED WITH MANY FORTUNE
500 ENTERPRISES OVER THE YEARS,
TO PUSH THEM AND ADVOCATE FOR
DIVERSITY.
BUT THEN ALSO IN DEMONSTRATING
TO HEM BEST PRACTICES.
IN THIS INSTANCE, WHAT THE 21st
CENTURY REQUIRES IS THEY MAKE A
COMMITMENT AS TO THE COMPOSITION
OF THEIR BOARD AND THEIR SENIOR
EXECUTIVE RANKS.
AS TO HOW THEY'RE GOING TO
ENSURE THAT THESE 25,000 JOBS
ARE GOING TO BE OPPORTUNITIES
FOR THE BOYS AND GIRLS THAT ARE
CURRENTLY IN THE JUNIOR HIGH
SCHOOLS AND HIGH SCHOOLS IN
QUEENS, AND IN MANHATTAN, AND IN
BROOKLYN AND THE BRONX AND
STATEN ISLAND, THE COMMUNITIES
OF NEW YORK CITY.
>> WOULD YOU BE SATISFIED IF THE
LEADERSHIP FROM AMAZON COMES
BACK TO YOU AND SAYS WE
UNDERSTAND YOUR CONCERNS HERE,
WE SHARE YOUR CONCERN.
AS AN ENTITY WE BELIEVE HAS TO
SHOW CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY,
SOCIAL RESPONSIBILITY.
BUT WE'RE JUST RELUCTANT TO
ENTER INTO WRITTEN AGREEMENTS
HERE.
THESE NOTIONS OF HIRING AND
PROGRESSION IS SO FLUID THAT
WHAT WE'RE SAYING IS YES, WE'LL
MAKE A COMMITMENT BUT WE DON'T
WANT TO DO IT ON PAPER.
WOULD THAT BE ACCEPTABLE?
>> IT REALLY ISN'T ACCEPTABLE,
JACK, AND I'LL TELL YOU WHY.
IF ONE LOOKS AT DIVERSITY AND
INCLUSION AS A BUSINESS
PROPOSITION, NOT JUST AN EQUITY
PROPOSITION, THEN THE WAY WE DO
BUSINESS IN AMERICA IS WITH
WRITTEN AGREEMENTS.
THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN
AMERICA IS WITH FRAMEWORKS.
THE WAY WE DO BUSINESS IN
AMERICA IS BY SETTING TARGETS
AND GOALS.
SO WE'RE TRYING TO ELEVATE THIS
CONVERSATION.
SECONDLY, AND INTERESTINGLY,
THERE HAVE BEEN INSTANCES IN THE
PAST, I'VE NOT BEEN INVOLVED IN
IT, WHERE CORPORATIONS HAVE MADE
GOOD-FAITH, HAND SHAKE
COMMITMENTS TO DIVERSITY, AND
IGNORED THEM WHEN THE LEADERSHIP
OF THE COMPANY CHANGED, WHEN THE
COMPANY WAS ACQUIRED BY ANOTHER
COMPANY, WHEN THERE WERE
CIRCUMSTANCES OF CONTROL
CHANGES.
IN THIS INSTANCE, THERE'S
PRECEDENT.
AND OF THE THER COMPANIES IN AM
HAVE MADE COMMITMENTS AND MANY
OF THEM HAVE INCLUSION POLICIES,
THEY'RE MONITORED AT THE BOARD
LEVEL.
WHAT MAKES THIS CASE SO
DIFFERENT IS THE MAGNITUDE OF
THE PUBLIC SUBSIDIES THAT AMAZON
WILL ENJOY TO RELOCATE OR TO
LOCATE ITS SECOND HEADQUARTERS
HERE IN NEW YORK CITY.
SO I THINK AMAZON HAS A GREAT
OPPORTUNITY HERE TO DEMONSTRATE
THE WAY THE TECH SECTOR IS THE
FUTURE OF AMERICA WHEN IT COMES
TO JOBS.
WE WANT TO MAKE SURE THAT THAT
TECH SECTOR IS INCLUSIVE, IT'S
DIVERSE, AND THERE ARE
MEANINGFUL OPPORTUNITIES FOR ALL
OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE IN AMERICA
WHO WANT TO WORK IN THAT SECTOR.
>> WHY DO YOU SAY, MARK, THIS IS
MORE THAN AN EQUITY PROPOSITION,
THAT THIS IS, AND SHOULD BE
VIEWED BY AMAZON AS ALSO A GOOD
BUSINESS PROPOSITION, WHY DO YOU
SAY THAT?
>> XE HENLTEXCELLENT QUESTION, .
IF ONE LOOKS AT THE COMPOSITION
OF THE AMERICAN WORKFORCE GOING
FORWARD, THE POPULATION BASE
GOING FORWARD, IT IS MORE
INCLUSIONARY THAN EVER BEFORE.
PEOPLE OF COLOR ALREADY MAKE UP
HALF THE HIGH SCHOOL GRADUATES
IN AMERICA.
WITHIN 15 TO 20 YEARS, THEY'LL
MAKE UP HALF OF THE WORKFORCE
BETWEEN THE AGES OF 25 AND 55.
NUMBER ONE.
NUMBER TWO, AMAZON'S CUSTOMER
BASE, I AM AN AMAZON CUSTOMER,
YOU MAY BE ONE ALSO.
ITS CUSTOMER BASE IS ALL OF
AMERICA.
IT'S FOR THOSE WHO LIVE ON THE
BOULEVARD, THOSE WHO LIVE IN THE
ALLEY, THOSE WHO LIVE IN BIG
HOUSES, THOSE THAT LIVE IN SMALL
HOUSES.
AMAZON, I THINK, IS
DEMONSTRATING A RESPONSIVENESS
TO ITS BASE.
AND MANY INSTITUTIONAL INVESTORS
AND OTHERS WANT COMPANIES TO BE
RESPONSIVE AND RESPONSIBLE WHEN
IT COMES TO THE ISSUE OF
DIVERSITY AND INCLUSION.
SO THIS, I THINK, IS A CHANCE
FOR AMAZON TO ELEVATE ITS VOICE.
WE HAVE RAISED CONCERNS ABOUT
THE TECH SECTOR.
LAST YEAR WE RELEASED A REPORT,
THE STATE OF BLACK AMERICA
REPORT.
WE FOUND OF THE TOP FOUR SILICON
VALLEY IDENTIFIED, IF YOU WILL,
COMPANIES, THAT LESS THAN A
THOUSAND OR 1500 OF THEIR ALMOST
40,000 EMPLOYEES WERE
AFRICAN-AMERICAN.
WE HAVE TO DO BETTER.
THEY CAN DO BETTER.
WE ARE WILLING TO WORK WITH THEM
FOR THEM TO DO BETTER.
BUT THIS IS ABOUT BUSINESS
PROPOSITION, AND AN EQUITY
PROPOSITION TOGETHER.
>> MARK, WE ALWAYS APPRECIATE
HAVING THE CHANCE TO SHARE SOME
OF YOUR THOUGHTS AND IDEAS, AND
THE URBAN LEAGUE ALSO.
THIS IS GOING TO BE A CONTINUING
STORY.
MY HOPE IS WE'LL GET YOU BACK ON
AIR AND TALK MORE DOWN THE ROAD.
>> ALWAYS, JACK.
THANK YOU.
>> THANK YOU, MARK.
YOU BE WELL.

Mutual of America PSEG

Funders

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