Is Former Obama WH Press Secretary James Carney The Top Union Buster In America?

Is Former Obama WH Press Secretary James Carney The Top Union Buster In America?


Photo: President Barack Obama announces that White House press secretary Jay Carney, right, will be stepping down, May 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

On April 1, an Amazon warehouse in New York City voted to form a union. Many saw it as a sign that unionization might soon sweep across more warehouses of the e-commerce giant as well as other low-wage employers.

Amazon has been fighting back – on the public relations front. The Jeff Bezos-founded company is relying on the PR skills of Jay Carney, who has been the senior vice president of global corporate affairs at Amazon since 2015. Carney oversees public policy and public relations for all of Amazon’s businesses worldwide.

Carney has some powerful contacts. He was the White House Press secretary for President Barack Obama from 2011 to 2014. He also worked for current President Joe Biden when Biden was vice president under Obama. For the first two years of Obama’s administration, Carney was Biden’s director of communications.

Carney quit his longtime job as a journalist with Time magazine in 2008 to become Vice President Biden’s first communications director and then became President Barack Obama’s press secretary. 

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Now a member of Bezos’ inner circle, Carney is heading Amazon’s communications team. On Carney’s watch, Amazon’s PR team is not only pushing back against union organizers but also against Democrats who favor the unionization of U.S. companies. 

So ironically, while Democrats are supporting the unionization of low-wage workers, union-busting is being run by longtime Democrat establishment supporter Carney.

“Let it be known Democrats are running the union-busting at Amazon. James Carney could be the top union buster in America,” tweeted The Moguldom Nation CEO Jamarlin Martin.

Unions tend to help Black people, who are disproportionately represented in low-wage jobs in the U.S. Nearly half of all Black workers in the U.S. earn less than $15 an hour, the highest of any racial group, Insider reported.

When an Amazon plant in Bessemer, Alabama, moved to unionize in 2021, the effort was endorsed by several Democrats. Amazon’s public relations machine headed by Carney rallied against the move.

The National Labour relations Board found that Amazon illegally tampered with the Bessemer union vote in 2021. Amazon workers voted against the union in a subsequent vote in March 2022. The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which organized the campaign, again claimed tampering by Amazon. The group has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.

Amazon “created an atmosphere of confusion, coercion and/or fear of reprisals and thus interfered with the employees’ freedom of choice” to join or reject a union, RWDSU said.

The Democratic Party has traditionally advocated for labor unions. Democrats tend to lean toward unionization, as did Obama while in office. Despite this, Obama praised Amazon during a visit to an Amazon warehouse in Tennessee.

In his role at Amazon, Obama insider Carney is now calling out Democrats. He did so in a March 2021 tweet after Sen. Bernie Sanders said that Alabama workers were “sick and tired of being treated like robots.”

Carney tweeted, “With all due respect, Senator, you’re wrong on this. We treat our employees with dignity and respect. We offer a $15 min wage, health care from day one, and a safe, inclusive workplace.”

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Carney has New York City union organizer Chris Smalls, co-founder and president of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), in his sights. ALU is a group of current and former Amazon employees seeking to unionize.

Amazon infamously fired Smalls from its Staten Island warehouse in 2021 shortly after Smalls organized a lunch-hour walkout over safety concerns during the coronavirus outbreak. Amazon claimed Smalls had violated covid-19 social distancing and quarantine rules.

On Twitter, Carney alleged that Smalls “knowingly put our team at risk” ― a charge Smalls denied.

Photo: President Barack Obama announces that White House press secretary Jay Carney, right, will be stepping down, May 30, 2014. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)