- Documents filed with the US Department of Labor show how Amazon hired anti-union consultants.
- One document suggests that Amazon hired consultants at a weekly rate of up to $20,000 each.
- The presence of anti-union consultants was noticed by workers inside an Amazon facility in New York.
Amazon has hired anti-union consultants for a weekly fee of up to $20,000 each to work in its Staten Island, New York, warehouses, documents filed with the US Department of Labor suggest.
The consultants were “engaged to represent Amazon’s interests in labor matters” at the company’s Staten Island facility, according to an October 2021 letter from Amazon to Lev Labor, a consultancy that describes itself as specializing in “collective bargaining.” , union organization campaigns and strategy and development of labor relations.”
The presence of anti-union consultants was noticed by workers inside JFK8, an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, who voted April 1 to form the company’s first union. In leaked audio of a mandatory meeting inside the warehouse, published by Vice in February 2021, a union evasion consultant told workers that if unionized, salary negotiations with Amazon could start with a minimum wage. The employer of this consultant is not known.
Amazon is now facing a wave of union organizing activity. The union vote is expected to be held at a nearby Staten Island facility beginning April 25. Meanwhile, the Washington Post reported that a warehouse in New Jersey 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 that 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. He says Lev Labor consultants interact with workers through “meetings,” “tours,” 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 did not immediately respond to Insider requests for comment.
Lev Labor does not appear to have been the only company hired by Amazon to provide anti-union advisors. Documents held by DOL highlight several engagements since January 2021 between Amazon and four other consultancies.
Some of the documents refer to Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. Bessemer warehouse workers voted against unionization in the spring of 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board in November ordered the election to be held again, saying Amazon had illegally tampered with the process.
Publicly available DOL documents have been highlighted in twitter by Terri Gerstein, worker rights expert and director of the State and Local Enforcement Project at Harvard Law School.
Gerstein said the documents likely provide a snapshot of the kind of money Amazon spends on anti-union advisors, as not all consulting firms fill out forms with the DOL.