Friday, June 10 2022

An employee scans packages at Amazon’s JFK8 fulfillment center in Staten Island, New York, in November 2020.REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

  • Documents filed with the US Department of Labor show how Amazon hired anti-union consultants.

  • One document suggests that Amazon hired consultants at a weekly rate of up to $20,000 each.

  • The presence of anti-union consultants had been witnessed by workers inside an Amazon factory in New York.

Amazon has hired union-busting consultants at a weekly rate of up to $20,000 each to work at its warehouses in Staten Island, New York, documents filed with the US Department of Labor suggest.

The consultants were “engaged to represent Amazon’s labor interests” at the company’s Staten Island facilities, according to an October 2021 letter from Amazon to Lev Labor, a consulting firm that describe specializing in “collective bargaining, organizing campaigns and labor relations strategy and development”.

The presence of anti-union consultants had been witnessed by workers inside JFK8, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, which voted on April 1 to form the company’s first union. In leaked audio of a mandatory meeting inside the warehouse, posted by Vice in February 2021, a union avoidance consultant told workers that if they unionize, pay negotiations with Amazon could start as low as minimum wage. The employer of this consultant is not known.

Amazon is now facing a wave of union activity. A the union vote is to take place at a nearby Staten Island facility from April 25. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that a New Jersey warehouse had obtained enough worker signatures to hold a union election.

Accompanying the October 2021 letter to Lev Labor from Amazon is a “scope of work” document from Lev Labor. This document states that Lev Labor’s “proposed intervention” is to provide Amazon with “three to five” on-site consultants, for a minimum of five days per week, to “interact directly” with Amazon employees. It says Lev Labor consultants would interact with workers through “meetings,” “visits,” and “focus groups.”

The estimated cost per consultant per week would be “17,000 to 20,000,” at an hourly rate of $400 per consultant, the document says.

Amazon and Lev Labor did not immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.

Lev Labor does not appear to have been the only company hired by Amazon to provide anti-union consultants. Documents held by the DOL highlight multiple engagements since January 2021 between Amazon and four other consulting firms.

Some of the documents relate to Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Bessemer warehouse workers voted against unionization in the spring of 2021but the National Labor Relations Council in November ordered the resumption of the electionsclaiming that Amazon had illegally tampered with the process.

Publicly available DOL documents have been highlighted on Twitter by Terri Gerstein, labor rights scholar and director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School.

Gerstein said the documents likely provide some insight into the kind of money Amazon spends on union-busting consultants, since not all consulting firms file forms with the DOL.

Read the original article at Business Intern


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