Consultants to Democratic Party political committees may be banned from giving clients union-busting guidance following a news report that Amazon hired a consulting firm with close ties to Democratic political groups to help squash efforts to unionize at a Staten Island, New York, warehouse.
Global Strategy Group (GSG), a consultant and polling partner for a pro-Biden super PAC ahead of the 2020 election, has been working for Amazon since at least late 2021 to produce anti-union materials, according to CNBC.
Management lost, labor won, and on April 1, 2022, Amazon warehouse workers voted to form a historic labor union — a first at the company and one of the biggest worker victories in modern U.S. labor history.
The Democratic Party has traditionally advocated for labor unions. GSG conducted polls for Amazon critic Letitia James, the New York attorney general who accused Amazon of unlawfully firing Christian Smalls, now the president of the Amazon Labor Union
The Amazon union movement’s victory has empowered other low-wage workers including employees at Walmart and Dollar Tree. At an April 24 solidarity rally, Smalls said, “We’ve gotten to a point where workers are organizing themselves! We got emails from Walmart, Dollar Tree, everywhere. Workers will take over everywhere…this is the revolution.”
New restrictions against union-buster consultants could come in the form of an addendum between any Democratic Party political committee and a consultant, according to a draft proposal seen by Politico. The addendum spells out that consultants can’t be used for “union-busting, aiding an employer in a labor dispute or lobbying against union-backed legislation.”
Consultants are also prohibited from helping 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.”
This could affect companies such as Uber and Lyft, which have lobbied to keep their drivers classified as private contractors, which disqualifies them from getting benefits generally given to full-time employees, according to Politico.
A revolving door of friends and colleagues in the top leadership of the Democratic Party reinforces its corporate sensibility, The Intercept reported.
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Jen Psaki, now President Joe Biden’s press secretary, was a GSG employee a decade ago. And Jay Carney went from being Barack Obama’s press secretary to being Amazon’s head of public relations and public policy.
“Amazon’s business model is predicated on the ruthless exploitation of its workforce, surveilling workers down to the second and doing all it can to annihilate their humanity through control and domination,” Alex Press wrote for Jacobin magazine. “But it also relies on the non-enforcement of US antitrust laws, as well as the country’s corrupt, lax regulation more generally. As the company ‘got big fast,’ per Amazon’s old slogan, it needed someone out front, leveraging their political connections to ensure the path toward Amazon’s expansion remained clear. That person is Carney.”
Biden promised to be “the most pro-union president” and expressed support for unionization efforts at Amazon on April 6, saying, “By the way, Amazon, here we come. Watch.”
Facing criticism from clients, GSG has apologized for working on the Amazon union busters campaign.
“ … being involved in any way was a mistake, we have resigned that work, and we are deeply sorry,” said Tanya Meck, a partner and managing director at GSG, in a statement.
Former GSG client the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) said it won’t be back as a client. Ditto for the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest labor unions in the country.
“There are many consultants who have consistently supported the rights of those who work hard for a living — people like teachers, bus drivers, nurses, and Amazon workers — to have a voice on the job,” Weingarten said in a statement. “We will work with those folks, who didn’t have to be reminded that working for working people is good for business.”
Other GSG clients include Google and Facebook.