Belabored Podcast #170: An Amazon Autopsy, with Camille Rivera

Belabored Podcast #170: An Amazon Autopsy, with Camille Rivera

An interview with RWDSU’s Camille Rivera, on the labor and community organizing behind the defeat of the Amazon HQ2 deal in Queens.

A protest against the proposed Amazon HQ2 headquarters at New York City Hall, January 30, 2019 (Drew Angerer/Getty Images)
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By now you’ve heard of the spectacular rise and fall of the Amazon HQ2 Deal in Queens. Faced with a barrage of anti-corporate outrage, deep local skepticism, and a political gridlock, the king of digital commerce did a total 180, deciding abruptly that it would take its business elsewhere. The collapse of the negotiations marked a victory for community organizing, but thwarting the Amazon invasion is just one act in a broader drama about urban development and the power multinationals like Amazon hold over our social and political landscape. We speak with Camille Rivera, National Political Director of the  Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union, about what happened, and what labor can do to make economic development in our cities fairer for all.

In other news, we talk to Uber drivers struggling for just jobs in the UK, explore the Rust Belt uprising that has triggered one of the biggest strikes under Trump, with UE’s Jonathan Kissam, and look at fast fashion’s labor crisis in Bangladesh and teacher radicalism in Oakland. With recommended reading on the social power of a living wage, and a new campaign to decriminalize sex work in New York.

This week’s show was supported by our monthly sustaining members. If you think our work is worth supporting as we soldier on through Trumplandia, please consider becoming a member today. If you’re interested in advertising on the show, please email And as always, if you have any questions, comments, or tips, email us at


EU retailers may cut ties with 532 RMG units (New Age)

Progress made since Rana Plaza collapse at risk (Clean Clothes Campaign)

IWGB launches campaign demanding TfL and Mayor take action over driver exploitation (IWGB)

UE News

Bernie Sanders Is Making a National Issue of This Strike (The Nation)

Oakland school board cancels meeting, citing fear of safety as teachers picket outside (East Bay Times)

Tentative agreement reached in Oakland teacher talks (East Bay Times)



Camille Rivera, National Political Director of the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Union (RWDSU)

‘Wrong Side of History’: In Queens, Amazon Deal’s Demise Reveals Deep Divisions (New York Times)

Who’s Responsible For Amazon Quitting Queens?  (Gothamist)

How the NYC Left Took on Amazon and Won (Jacobin)

Argh, I Wish I’d Written That!

Michelle: Matthew Desmond, Dollars on the Margins (New York Times Magazine)

Sarah: Melissa Gira Grant, The Police Act Like We Are Nothing (The Appeal)