Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Corporate gatekeepers and big tech monopolists are making it more difficult than ever for independent media to survive. Please chip in today.

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at a rally with Amazon workers

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) speaks at an Amazon Labor Union rally on April 24, 2022 in New York City. (Photo: David Dee Delgado/Getty Images)

Sanders Says 'No Corporation That Breaks the Law Should Get a Federal Contract'

"No government," said the Vermont senator, "should be handing out corporate welfare to union busters."

Jake Johnson

Sen. Bernie Sanders on Friday reiterated his call for the Biden administration to prohibit all union-busting corporations from receiving federal contracts, citing the National Labor Relations Board's fresh complaints against Starbucks and Amazon over their attempts to crush worker organizing.

"This is what oligarchy and corporate greed are all about," Sanders, the chair of the Senate Budget Committee, tweeted Friday. "Two large and profitable corporations, owned by billionaires, spend millions to illegally deny their workers the right to organize. No corporation that breaks the law should get a federal contract."

In a sweeping complaint filed Friday, the NLRB alleged that Starbucks committed hundreds of labor law violations in its campaign to stop Buffalo-area employees from forming a union.

The NLRB also said Friday that it found merit in charges that Amazon forced Staten Island warehouse workers to attend anti-union "captive audience" meetings ahead of an election that the union ultimately won, a landmark victory for the U.S. labor movement.

As the New York Times reported, such anti-union meetings "are legal under current labor board precedent."

"But last month, the board's general counsel, Jennifer Abruzzo, issued a memo saying that the precedent was at odds with the underlying federal statute, and she indicated that she would seek to challenge it," the Times noted.

The NLRB on Friday also found merit in union charges that Amazon threatened to deny benefits to employees who voted to unionize and suggested—falsely—that workers could be fired if they failed to pay union dues. The labor board is expected to formally issue a complaint in the coming days detailing the charges and seeking corrective action from Amazon, which spent $4.3 million on anti-union consultants last year alone.

Amazon and Starbucks are both beneficiaries of federal contracts. Earlier this year, the National Security Agency quietly re-awarded Amazon Web Services a 10-year cloud contract worth up to $10 billion, a move that runs afoul of President Joe Biden's campaign promise to "ensure federal dollars do not flow to employers who engage in union-busting activities, participate in wage theft, or violate labor law."

As The American Prospect noted, "That contract comes on top of 26 other federal cloud computing contracts with the U.S. Army and Air Force; the Departments of Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, and Interior; the U.S. Census Bureau; and numerous other agencies."

In a letter to Biden last week, Sanders urged the president to sign an executive order barring corporations that violate
labor laws from contracting with the federal government.

During a Senate Budget Committee hearing on Thursday, Sanders observed that "there are hundreds of corporations in America that receive federal contracts, huge subsidies, special tax breaks, and all kinds of corporate welfare despite the fact that these same companies have engaged in widespread illegal behavior—including massive violations of labor laws."

According to the watchdog organization Good Jobs First, Amazon has received more than $3.5 billion in state and local taxpayer subsidies since 1996.

"Taxpayer dollars should not go to companies like Amazon who repeatedly break the law," Sanders said Thursday. "No government—not the federal government, not the state government, and not the city government—should be handing out corporate welfare to union busters and labor law violators."

Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Texas Democrat Demands Federal Probe of Police Response to Uvalde Shooting

"State officials have provided conflicting accounts that are at odds with those provided by witnesses," said U.S. Rep. Joaquin Castro.

Jake Johnson ·

'No Time to Waste': New Nationwide March For Our Lives Protests Set for June 11

"Together, we rose up four years ago. One million of us demanded change. We built a movement. We voted for new leaders. And the gun deaths increased. Now is the moment we march again."

Brett Wilkins ·

'We Need Fewer Guns in Schools, Not More': Teachers Reject GOP Call for Armed Educators

"Teachers should be teaching, not acting as armed security guards," the president of a leading teachers' union asserted in the wake of the Robb Elementary School massacre in Texas.

Brett Wilkins ·

Faith Leaders, Teachers Mobilize for Protests at NRA's Houston Meeting in Wake of Uvalde Massacre

"Don't look away," said one advocacy group. "Rally against the NRA."

Julia Conley ·

NY Appeals Court Rules Trump and Two of His Kids Must Testify in Financial Fraud Case

"Our investigation will continue undeterred because no one is above the law," said New York Attorney General Letitia James.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo