Sign at the May 3 forum about Triple Five's plans for EPCAL, hosted by the Riverhead IDA at the Hotel Indigo. Photo: Denise Civiletti

To the Editor:

There is no place on Earth that compares to Long Island. We have gorgeous beaches and parks. We are close to the city and everything it offers. We have good, union jobs that can sustain a family. I grew up here. When I became an adult and got a union job at UPS, I knew this is where I wanted to stay.

So much of what we love about Long Island is under threat. Developers have proposed building an e-commerce air cargo hub in Calverton that would bring noise and pollution, while undercutting our union jobs. We need to stop it.

Triple Five, the developer, wants to construct the Enterprise Park at Calverton (EPCAL) project at the former Grumman site. The proposal includes 8.4 million square feet of logistics and distribution buildings along two runways. Triple Five has said Amazon is the kind of tenant they are looking for to operate the air cargo hub. The Town of Riverhead board voted to sell the property to Triple Five and the two have jointly applied to the Riverhead Industrial Development Agency to divert at least $10 million from schools and other public services to subsidize the project.

Calverton has seen a wave of industrial development in recent years that is changing this agricultural community and affecting the local environment. EPCAL would be the largest yet. Residents and planning experts are calling for a moratorium on industrial development until Riverhead can update its comprehensive plan, which is over 20 years out-of-date.

I’ve also seen the impact of Amazon at my job. The e-commerce giant is undercutting the industry standards that my union has won over generations of organizing and strikes. Amazon pays its drivers half of what regular drivers at UPS make and expects them to work any day of the week. UPS has tried to compete with Amazon by coming down to its level. As a union, we have fought tooth and nail to maintain good wages and work-life balance in our industry.

If Amazon were bringing good jobs, it would it would be worth having here, but it is not. Amazon is undercutting the competition by making workers do the job for less money with fewer benefits.That hurts Long Island.

We need the Town of Riverhead and the Riverhead IDA to say no to an air cargo hub at EPCAL. Officials can require the developer to file covenants ensuring that this property will never be used for air cargo. Let’s protect our environment and use our industrial land and public dollars to support employers that will benefit local workers. Long Island can have good jobs and clean air.

Tyler Gibbons

Teamsters Local 804

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