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Union organizer Christian Smalls celebrates with Amazon workers following the vote to unionize a Staten Island, New York warehouse on April 1, 2022.

Union organizer Christian Smalls celebrates with Amazon workers following the vote to unionize a Staten Island, New York warehouse on April 1, 2022. (Photo: Andrea Renault/AFP via Getty Images)

'Disgusting': Democratic-Aligned Firm Slammed for Working on Amazon's Failed Anti-Union Effort

In the wake of the Amazon Labor Union's landmark win, progressives reveled in the fact that GSG's anti-worker tactics were unsuccessful.

Kenny Stancil

Amazon was not able to prevent Staten Island warehouse workers from securing a historic union election victory on Friday despite pulling out all the stops—including hiring a Democratic Party-aligned pollster whose effort to help kill the unionization effort was decried by progressive critics.

Amazon "tapped an influential consulting and polling firm with close ties to Democratic political groups" to help the retail giant defeat a union drive at the JFK8 fulfillment center in New York City, CNBC reported Thursday night.

"Global Strategy Group, which served as a polling partner for a pro-Biden super PAC ahead of the 2020 election, has been working for Amazon since at least late last year to produce anti-union materials," noted the news outlet, which obtained internal documents.

According to CNBC, Barbara Russell, Amazon's global director of employee relations, helped oversee Global Strategy Group's (GSG) union-busting effort, during which staffers from the firm's offices in New York, Connecticut, and Washington, D.C. engaged in numerous intimidation tactics:

At JFK8, Amazon's largest warehouse in New York City, and three other facilities on Staten Island, GSG has put together videos featuring Amazon managers and executives, and has distributed flyers to staffers. Amazon has delivered anti-union presentations that workers have been required to sit through at meetings, which were often attended by representatives from GSG, according to a person familiar with the matter.

GSG employees have also been monitoring the social media accounts of Amazon Labor Union organizers, said the person, who asked not to be named due to confidentiality...

The videos and printed materials distributed by GSG attempt to discourage employees from voting to join a union. They use phrases like "One team, working together" and "Unpack it: Get the facts about unions," a slogan repeated on Amazon's anti-union website— Some of the materials tout the many benefits that Amazon already provides, including healthcare, vacation time, and opportunities for improving job skills.

In the wake of the Amazon Labor Union's landmark win, progressives reveled in the fact that GSG's blatantly anti-union campaign was unsuccessful.

Some observers likened ALU's victory to "David beats Goliath," given that the group, led by former and current Amazon warehouse workers and not affiliated with an established union, challenged one of the world's most powerful corporations and won—less than a year after it was created.

GSG "failed and it's wonderful that Democrats weren't able to stop the first union at Amazon," journalist Kevin Gosztola wrote on social media.

Before the Staten Island Amazon workers' votes had been counted and the formation of the e-commerce giant's first-ever union in the United States confirmed, commentator Krystal Ball denounced GSG's collaboration with Amazon, calling it "disgusting."

"Heavy hitter Dem pollster can do union-busting for Amazon but you get blacklisted by [the] DCCC if you work for a left challenger?" she asked. "These people are shameless."

Three years ago, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee threatened to cut off funds to firms and strategists that support primary challengers against incumbents—an ostensibly neutral rule that critics argued would disproportionately hurt progressive organizations seeking to replace corporate Democrats with left-leaning lawmakers, as Common Dreams reported at the time.

Amazon, which spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants in 2021 alone, tried mightily to crush the union drive at JFK8, forcing workers to attend hundreds of captive-audience meetings and threatening workers with pay cuts and other potential consequences.

It wasn't enough to defeat ALU, however, though Amazon has already said that it is considering filing official objections claiming "undue influence" by the National Labor Relations Board, which still has to certify the election.

During a press conference after the union victory was announced, ALU president Christian Smalls—who was fired by Amazon in 2020 after he organized a walkout to protest the company's refusal to adequately protect workers during the early weeks of the Covid-19 pandemic—said that "we want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space because when he was up there, we were signing people up."

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