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Amazon spent over $3 million last year on anti-union consultants to prevent organized labor from entering its delivery network. The company hired “persuaders” who work to convince workers not to form unions, spending over $14 million on such consultants in total. These expenditures, disclosed to the Labor Department, do not include in-house efforts against unions or legal advice. Companies typically pay these consultants thousands of dollars per day to hold group and one-on-one meetings where they paint unions in a negative light, especially before union elections or during organizing efforts. Amazon, as the largest warehouse employer in the country, has significantly higher spending on anti-union consultants compared to others in the industry.

Michigan-based consultant Penne Familusi’s firm, the Rayla Group, was the largest beneficiary of Amazon’s spending in 2023, receiving $1.3 million. The second highest-earning consultant was labor lawyer Katie Lev, who got $1.1 million from Amazon but was ruled in January 2023 by an administrative law judge to have made illegal threats against workers. Amazon stated in its filings that it hired consultants like Familusi and Lev in response to large-scale union organizing efforts, aiming to “educate employees” and express the company’s opinion on union representation. The retailer is facing opposition from various labor groups, including the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Amazon Labor Union, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, in its warehouses and delivery network.

While the ALU successfully formed a union at Amazon’s JFK8 warehouse in New York City, it is still negotiating a first contract. The RWDSU lost an election at a warehouse in Alabama in 2021 due to Amazon’s violations of labor laws, leading to a rerun election that was also lost by a smaller margin the following year. Additionally, subcontracted delivery drivers in California unionized with the Teamsters, arguing that Amazon should have to bargain directly with them as they dictate working conditions, despite being paid by a third party. Amazon’s battle with labor groups reflects a larger trend of increasing worker activism and unionization efforts in response to perceived unfair labor practices and working conditions.

Overall, the disclosure of Amazon’s spending on anti-union consultants sheds light on the company’s aggressive stance against organized labor in its operations. By investing millions of dollars in persuaders to dissuade workers from forming unions, Amazon is attempting to maintain control over its workforce and prevent collective bargaining efforts. Despite facing challenges from various labor groups, Amazon continues to resist unionization in its delivery network and warehouses, citing the need to educate employees about their rights and express the company’s perspective on union representation. The ongoing struggle between Amazon and labor organizations underscores the broader debate around workers’ rights, fair treatment, and the power dynamics between employers and employees in the modern economy.

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