Amazon’s Union-Buster Consultants Are Also Consultants for Major Labor Unions

A recent union campaign at an Amazon Staten Island warehouse not only yielded the first worker victory anywhere in the online retailer’s US operations, when workers tuned to unionize there. The bitter battle over the union effort has also provided a rare glimpse of how the Democratic advisory class is simultaneously advising — and benefiting from — supposedly pro-union Democratic politicians, corporate union fighters, and the labor movement itself.

The prominent democratic consulting firm Global Strategy Group (GSG) was there recently suspended for his support in Amazon’s attempt to crush the Staten Island labor movement. It turns out that the firm, which makes millions of dollars each election cycle by conducting polls, research and public relations for candidates and liberal organizations, has also long worked for some of the country’s largest unions.

GSG originally attempted to defend its work for Amazon, claiming in a since deleted statement the existence report by CNBC “falsely credits the GSG with anti-union work done by others.” On Monday, the company problematic issued a half-hearted apology, writing: “While there have been factual inaccuracies in recent reports of our work for Amazon, it was a mistake to be involved in any way. We are deeply sorry and we have given up this work.”

When we reached out to them, two of the unions that had previously contracted with GSG – the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and a New York branch of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) – said they no longer employed the company would.

However, five unions and several well-known Democratic candidates who have employed the company in recent years did not respond to a request for comment on whether they would cut ties with the company.

The episode illuminates a central conflict at the heart of today’s Democratic Party, a conflict with real implications for organized labor: the Democrats present themselves as the party of organized workers while at the same time relying on campaign funds from big business. So do many consultants who work for unions or vote for Democrats as much or more of their day working for corporate interests that are much better paid, so they have little real loyalty to the Democratic working-class base.

“Democratic corporations are especially valuable to American business because they understand how institutions and individuals function within the Democratic Party,” said Jeff Hauser, executive director of the Revolving Door Project, an organization that represents the personnel that move between corporations and government , examines:

Amazon benefits from strong ties with the Democrats, especially at a time when they are at odds with the labor movement. It is therefore particularly important for the Democratic Party leadership to demonstrate solidarity with workers at Amazon by boycotting companies that fight workers and advocate for union busting.

GSG, a New York City-based public relations and research firm founded in 1995, touts its close ties to the Democratic Party. “GSG polled dozens of successful campaigns and political organizations in 2018 and 2020 to secure today’s Democratic majority in the US House of Representatives and Senate.” Remarks the company’s website. “In fact, our political team has entered more races than any other company.”

GSG was a customer in the last two election periods included the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee and the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the party’s official committees for electing senators and representatives, and the super-PACs associated with these committees, the Senate Majority PAC and the House Majority PAC. The company says it served as a 2020 “election partner” for Priorities USA, an outside group supporting President Joe Biden and funded in part by big corporations union donations.

The firm has also worked on the campaigns of Cheri Beasley, who is running for the North Carolina Senate; Representative David Cicilline (D-RI); Representative Val Demings (D-FL), challenging Marco Rubio for his Senate seat in Florida; Senator Ed Markey (DMA); and Representative Joe Morelle (D-NY).

None of these committees, legislators or candidates have responded to requests for comment from us whether the recent revelations about GSG’s work on the Amazon union campaign would affect her relationship with the company.

In addition to its Democratic clients, the firm has also worked for a number of unions in recent years – including the National Education Association, the International Brotherhood of Carpenters New England Regional Council of Carpenters, the Associated Actors and Artistes of America, the International Die Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 98 in Philadelphia, the SEIU Local 775 in Washington state, and the American Federation of School Administrators Local 1 in New York, according to Department of Labor records and federal campaign finance reports.

We contacted all of these unions to ask if GSG’s association with Amazon would affect their relationship with the company going forward, and none responded.

Two unions who were listed as customers on GSG’s website last fall but have not worked with GSG for several years said they would no longer work with the company.

“We are glad that GSG has written an apology and is taking some responsibility after disclosing that they have supported Amazon,” AFT President Randi Weingarten told us:

There are many advisors who have consistently championed the right of those who work hard for a living — people like teachers, bus drivers, nurses, and Amazon workers — to have a voice at work. We will work with the people who didn’t need to be reminded that work for working people is good for business.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for SEIU 1199 in New York told us that the union would no longer be working with GSG. “The union has not used them since 2016 and is unlikely to do so again,” the spokesman said, adding, “We applaud Amazon workers for their historic victory and call on Amazon to respect their voice and unite immediately.” to negotiate a fair contract.”

The Nevada Democratic Party, which was taken over by candidates supports told by the local chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America last year More perfect union It won’t work with GSG either.

Shortly after GSG’s work for Amazon was first reported, the Amazon Labor Union, which organized the Staten Island workers, filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) against the company for violating the federal labor code.

This is what the complaint points out The website and other materials that GSG reports set up for Amazon contained lies about unions violating federal labor laws, according to Amazon Labor Union attorney Seth Goldstein. (GSG denies creating these materials, but CNBC reported that it “has documentation to support its reporting, including descriptions of the company’s work with Amazon.”)

On Monday, GSG apologized for consulting with Amazon over its anti-union efforts and suggested it would not support the company in future efforts to prevent its employees from unionizing. “Although there have been inaccuracies in the description of our work, we regret being in any way involved and have discontinued this work with Amazon,” said Tanya Meck, Partner and Managing Director at GSG, told the city.

But GSG has represented many other powerful corporate clients. The company worked on behalf of both Uber and Lyft in their attempts to block legislation classifying their drivers as employees rather than independent contractors.

GSG has too worked for Tyson Foods that came Under fire last year for failing to take adequate precautions to protect plant workers from COVID-19. Other clients include Apollo Global Management, billionaire Donald Trump hedge fund donor Marc Rowan and KomcastWhich confronted his own anti-union allegations in 2020.

Tax returns show the company has additionally worked for health insurance lobby group America’s Health Insurance Plans, Wall Street-backed think tank Third Way and big pharma front group Center Forward.

The Joe Biden administration has its own close ties to the GSG. For example, Jen Psaki, Biden’s press secretary, was senior vice president and managing director at GSG from 2011 to 2012.

Biden promised to be the most”union friendly” President in American History and recently spoken out of in favor of Amazon workers who want to unionize, but he has declined to take executive action that would help workers in union elections, as we have previously reported.

Meanwhile, senior officials in the Biden administration have been moving through the revolving door between Amazon and its affiliates and the government, as New York Magazine recently reported. The company was also one of the Top provider to its Candidates Committee in 2020.

A corner of the administration, however, has taken an explicitly pro-worker direction. Biden’s NLRB has played an important role in enabling workers to form unions, including at Amazon, by pursuing complaints of unfair labor practices and seeking to overturn anti-worker interpretations of labor laws. This was announced by the agency’s legal advisor, Jennifer Abruzzo a note Just last week, “prisoner public meetings” — meetings that companies must attend to hear anti-union talking points — were found to be in violation of the federal Labor Code.

Amazon held such sessions at the recently unionized Staten Island warehouse ahead of the union election. According to GSG, creating materials for these meetings helped reporting from CNBC.

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