Nashville’s police union is criticizing the city’s plans to award up to $15 million in incentives for Amazon’s new facility, calling it “corporate welfare,” the Associated Press reported.
The Nashville Fraternal Order of Police is calling for cost-of-living adjustments the city reneged on earlier this year amid budget woes.
Amazon has said its total incentive package in Nashville includes up to $102 million in performance-based incentives based on creating 5,000 jobs over the seven-year timeframe, with an average wage over $150,000.
Nashville Mayor David Briley gave merit raises to 20 members of his own staff even as rank-and-file city workers got shafted on the promised salary increases, The Tennessee Star previously reported in September. Two of the mayor’s staff received 6 percent increases. The city’s excuse for not giving the salary adjustments was a shaky budget.
James Smallwood, president of the Andrew Jackson Lodge No. 5, issued this statement to The Star about Amazon:
The Fraternal Order of Police was pleased to learn that Amazon, in their selection of Nashville as a finalist for their new facility, had recognized what Nashvillians have always known. That Nashville is a safe, vibrant and welcoming city with an enormous potential for future growth.
However, as were many citizens, we were disappointed to learn that this selection came with incentives that included $15 million dollars in corporate welfare to this multi-billion-dollar corporation. Nashville is a truly great city and we are surprised that there is a perceived need to bribe corporations to bring their businesses to our community. Continuing to give these handouts to private companies place an unnecessary burden on the Nashville community and its employees. Especially in a year where employees were once again told that the promised cost of living adjustments would not be honored in the budget. If Nashville cannot afford to fulfill the promises made to the hard-working employees of the metro government – the very employees who are responsible for the thriving, safe, and vibrant environment that attracts companies like Amazon to our city – can we really afford millions of dollars in corporate giveaways?
We commend Councilman Glover and the co-sponsors of this legislation for recognizing that metro’s employees should come before any new corporate welfare programs. We call on Mayor Briley, Vice Mayor Shulman, and all of the remaining members of the Metro Council to support this legislation. After years of frozen increments and failed promises to these hard-working men and women, we are no longer able to accept the fact that existing commitments to metro employees are ignored while our leaders seem all too eager to extend new commitments that do not include Metro’s workforce.
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Jason M. Reynolds has more than 20 years’ experience as a journalist at outlets of all sizes.