Democrats move to crack down on consultants after Amazon union busting activity

The development comes weeks after a report revealed a Biden-aligned consultancy advised Amazon on union avoidance

By Jon Skolnik

Published April 19, 2022 4:09PM (EDT)

Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials and social activists for a rally in support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in the state of Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)
Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials and social activists for a rally in support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in the state of Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP via Getty Images)

The Democratic Party is prohibiting its consultants from providing clients with anti-union guidance following a report that a top Democratic consultancy firm provided Amazon with unsuccessful guidance on how to quash a union drive.

The new restriction will come in the form of an addendum between any Democratic Party political committee and a consultant, according to Politico. The provision explicitly establishes that consultants cannot be used for "union-busting, aiding an employer in a labor dispute or lobbying against union-backed legislation."

It will also prohibit assisting clients to "advance legislation, ballot measures or other public policies that are opposed by the labor movement or to defeat legislation, ballot measure or other public policies that are supported by the labor movement." Politico notes that this provision could have an especially negative impact on ride-sharing giants like Uber and Lyft, which have lobbied the federal government to ensure that their drivers remain private contractors, excluding them from the suite of benefits generally conferred to full-time employees.

RELATED: "This seems totally illegal": Amazon may ban union terms like "pay raise" in internal messages

The move comes just weeks after CNBC reported that Amazon, whose warehouses employees in the company's State Island Facility just voted to unionize, solicited union avoidance expertise from Global Strategy Group (GSG), a polling partner for President Biden's 2020 presidential campaign. 


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According to CNBC, GSG played an instrumental role in shaping the company's union avoidance tactics, which included an anti-union website (www.unpackjfk8.com) featuring slogans like "One team, working together" and "Unpack it: Get the facts about unions." The site also touts all of the company's benefits, like vacation time and professional development, suggesting that if employees unionize, those benefits might disappear.

GSG representatives also reportedly made appearances at numerous captive audiences meetings, in which Amazon managers forced warehouse workers to learn about the apparent ills of unionization. 

RELATED: Corporations like Amazon pay big bucks for "union avoidance" — and it all happens in the dark

News of GSG's involvement in the campaign provoked an immediate backlash from some of the company's clients, including the American Federation of Teachers and the Service Employees International Union. 

According to the Indypendent, Amazon did not disclose its enlistment of GSG as mandated by the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMDRA).

"I have no idea — if what they're doing is legitimate — that they just don't go through the process, like everybody else," Seth Goldstein, pro-bono attorney for the Amazon Labor Union, told the outlet. "This is why we need administrative reform."


Jon Skolnik

Jon Skolnik is a staff writer at Salon. His work has appeared in Current Affairs, The Baffler, and The New York Daily News.

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Amazon Brief Democrats Dnc Gsg Labor Movement Unoin-busting