Amazon donates to Illinois Legislative Black Caucus – Crain’s Chicago Business

The release is about an apparently major corporate donation to launch the caucus’ Social Justice & Public Policy Institute, which will focus on “education, workforce development and economic reality.”  Among other things, the institute will provide scholarships to needy black students trying to make their way in life, surely a worth goal.

But back to that corporate donor, which will provide “seed funding.” It’s Amazon, the company organized labor has vigorously targeted for pay rates that tend to be on the low side, which has vigorously opposed unionization of its workers, which just sued the New York attorney general over COVID-related rules for workers in its warehouses, and which has helped hollow out the neighborhood shopping districts that once were an anchor in every corner of the city.

It’s also a company that at any point in time needs friends in Springfield to approve economic development grants, keep the minimum wage from rising too fast and other favors.

Amazon’s new backing “affords the foundation an opportunity to fulfill its mission and really enhance our efforts to explore subject matters that serve as an impediment to eradicating systemic racism in the state,” caucus Executive Director Tiffany Hightower said in a statement.

In a later interview, Hightower said she couldn’t say how big the that seed donation is. “I can’t talk about that. (But) it’s a nice number,” Hightower said. (Amazon didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.)

But what about the impression that if Amazon takes care of the caucus, the caucus will smile fondly on Amazon, much like ComEd once hired former caucus head Marlow Colvin to be its vice president and top Springfield lobbyist? Colvin resigned just as the ComEd bribery scandal hit.

Hightower declined comment on that, adding only that Amazon has a “genuine desire to help the community.”

I’ll be interested to know whether the new House speaker, Emanuel “Chris” Welch, has any thoughts on this. He’s a member of the caucus, and its unified backing was a big factor in why he now is speaker. Welch’s spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.


via “Illinois Politics” – Google News

February 12, 2021 at 04:28PM

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