- Documents filed with the US Department of Labor show how Amazon has engaged anti-union consultants.
- One document suggests Amazon engaged consultants at a weekly rate of up to $20,000 each.
- The presence of anti-union consultants had been noted by workers inside an Amazon facility in New York.
Amazon engaged anti-union 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 the interests of Amazon relative to labor matters” at the company’s Staten Island facilities, according to an October 2021 letter from Amazon to Lev Labor, a consultancy that describes itself as specializing in “collective bargaining, union organizing campaigns and labor relations strategy and development.”
The presence of anti-union consultants had been noted by workers inside JFK8, an Amazon warehouse on Staten Island, which voted on April 1 to form the company’s first union. In leaked audio from a mandatory meeting inside the warehouse, published by Vice in February 2021, a union avoidance consultant told workers that if they unionized, pay negotiations with Amazon could start as low as the minimum wage. The employer of this consultant isn’t known.
Amazon is now facing a swell of union organizing activity. A union vote is due to be held at a neighboring Staten Island facility starting on April 25. Meanwhile, The Washington Post reported that a warehouse in New Jersey had obtained enough worker signatures to hold a union election.
The October 2021 letter to Lev Labor from Amazon is accompanied by a “scope of work” document from Lev Labor. This document says Lev Labor’s “proposed intervention” is to provide Amazon with “three to five” on-site consultants, for a minimum of five days a week, to “interact directly” with Amazon employees. It says Lev Labor’s consultants would interact with workers through “meetings,” “walk-through’s,” and “focus groups.”
The estimated cost per consultant, per week would be “17k-20k,” at an hourly rate of $400 per consultant, the document says.
Amazon and Lev Labor didn’t immediately respond to Insider’s requests for comment.
Lev Labor doesn’t appear to have been the only company engaged by Amazon to provide anti-union consultants. Documents held by the DOL highlight several engagements since January 2021 between Amazon and four other consultancies.
Some of the documents relate to Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Workers at the Bessemer warehouse voted against unionizing in spring 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board on November ordered the election be re-held, saying Amazon had illegally tampered with the process.
The publicly-available DOL documents were highlighted on Twitter by Terri Gerstein, a workers’ rights specialist and director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School.
Gerstein said the documents probably provided a snapshot of the kind of money Amazon spends on anti-union consultants, as not all consultancy firms file forms with the DOL.