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Workers rally in support of an Amazon unionization effort in Alabama

Union leaders are joined by community group representatives, elected officials, and social activists for a rally in support of unionization efforts by Amazon workers in Alabama on March 21, 2021 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo: Frederic J. Brown/AFP via Getty Images)

Amid Backlash, Democrats Consider Banning Consultants From Anti-Union Activity

"This is happening because workers are taking hold of our power," said Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA.

Jake Johnson

The Democratic Party's governing body is reportedly considering a plan to bar its consultants from anti-union activity following backlash over revelations that Amazon hired Global Strategy Group—a prominent Democratic polling firm—to assist its union-busting campaign in New York City.

"Democrats should ban consultants from not just specifically working on anti-union activity, but also working for actively anti-union corporations."

Politico reported Tuesday that "a union-drafted addendum to any contract between a Democratic Party political committee and a consultant would forbid the consultant—or any of its parents, subsidiaries, or affiliates—from participating in an array of activities involving unions," including "union-busting, aiding an employer in a labor dispute, or lobbying against union-backed legislation."

A spokesperson for the Democratic National Committee (DNC) told the outlet that it is "in the process of reviewing the proposal," but Politico noted that "union officials indicated it was a sure thing." 

Liz Shuler, president of the AFL-CIO, issued a statement welcoming "Democratic Party committees' decision to amend their contract and [request for proposal] processes in light of reporting that GSG had been working for Amazon as they sought to defeat the recent organizing drive."

"By amending their contracts and RFP processes to exclude firms actively working with clients who seek to prevent or limit working people's basic rights to act collectively or otherwise act against their interests as union members, the committees demonstrate their commitment to democracy and shared prosperity," Shuler added.

On Twitter, Sara Nelson, president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, hailed the proposed amendment as a result of persistent worker organizing.

"Start in the workplace and the politics will follow," Nelson wrote. "This is happening because workers are taking hold of our power. Every worker who has acted in solidarity with their colleagues made this happen."

A day before Amazon workers at the JFK8 facility in Staten Island scored the first-ever union victory at the company in the United States, CNBC reported that Amazon "tapped an influential consulting and polling firm with close ties to Democratic political groups to help the company thwart" the organizing drive.

"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," CNBC continued. "At JFK8... 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."

"GSG employees have also been monitoring the social media accounts of Amazon Labor Union organizers," CNBC added, referring to the independent, worker-led union that spearheaded the organizing campaign at JFK8.

GSG has long had close ties to the Democratic Party, previously providing campaign services to big-name lawmakers including Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.). White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki, who has walked back some of President Joe Biden's supportive comments about the Amazon unionization push, worked for GSG a decade ago.

As The Intercept's Alex Weatherhead documented last month, "GSG's partnerships have included numerous corporations with a vested interest in government regulation," including Microsoft, Google, Pfizer, and Goldman Sachs.

News that Amazon—which spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants last year—hired GSG to bolster its aggressive union-busting effort sparked outrage, with critics arguing that the Democratic Party cannot claim to support workers' right to unionize while employing an anti-union consulting firm.

In response to Politico's reporting on the DNC amendment, progressives demanded that the party go much further.

"Democrats should ban consultants from not just specifically working on anti-union activity, but also working for actively anti-union corporations," said Jordan Zakarin of More Perfect Union. "Oh, add in every bank and every corporate lobby that actively funds campaigns to defeat Democratic legislation, too."

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