Biden GSG pollster ‘deeply sorry’ for Amazon’s union-busting work as labor groups drop him

Amazon workers arrive with paperwork to unionize at the NLRB office in Brooklyn, New York on October 25, 2021.

Brendan Mcdermid | Reuters

Major labor groups and political action committees are distancing themselves from a leading Democratic pollster after it was revealed the company was working on Amazon’s anti-union efforts at a warehouse on Staten Island in New York.

In late March, CNBC reported that Amazon had tapped Global Strategy Group, an influential polling and consulting firm, to help with campaign materials at multiple Staten Island facilities, including JFK8, the site of a successful trade union campaign earlier this month.

GSG is well known on Capitol Hill and in Democratic political circles. He served as a polling partner for a pro-Biden super PAC ahead of the 2020 election and maintains a high profile list of political and corporate clients, including Google and Facebook.

“It’s really really disgusting,” Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, wrote in a tweet after CNBC’s story was published.

In a show of solidarity with the Amazon Labor Union and a strengthening of the labor movement more broadly, AFT and several other former GSG customers are distancing themselves from the company and pledging to no longer do business with it at coming. All of this follows a campaign that ultimately did not bear fruit.

On April 1, the JFK8 election tally showed that, by a wide margin, employees voted to unionize, the first time this has happened at an Amazon plant in the United States. A week later, Amazon filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board, arguing the election. process was tainted.

President Joe Biden, who has promised to be “the most pro-union president,” expressed his support for organizing efforts at Amazon on April 6, remarking, “By the way, Amazon, here we come. Look.”

GSG initially tried to keep its work with Amazon quiet. But in the face of customer feedback, the company is now apologizing for working on the campaign.

“While there have been factual inaccuracies in recent reports about our work for Amazon, being involved in any way was wrong, we have resigned from this work and are deeply sorry,” Tanya said. Meck, Partner and Managing Director of GSG, in a report.

Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

A movement full of momentum

Among the groups cutting ties with GSG is the Service Employees International Union, one of the largest unions in the country. The SEIU has spent $1.74 million on GSG services since 2005, according to Department of Labor records. Just last year, the SEIU paid GSG $66,500 for voter polling services, according to filings.

A SEIU spokesperson told CNBC that the union’s national office will no longer employ GSG in the future.

Weingarten said AFT, which has not worked with GSG for several years, will not return as a client. Labor Department records show AFT paid about $160,000 to GSG for polling and consulting services between 2013 and 2014.

“Many consultants have always supported the rights of those who work hard for a living — people like teachers, bus drivers, nurses, and Amazon workers — to have a voice at work,” Weingarten said. in a press release. “We will work with these people, who did not need to be reminded that working for workers is good for business.”

Unions aren’t the only disgruntled customers. The League of Conservation Voters, a political action committee and environmental advocacy group, said it is “reassessing how this news may affect future plans”. And the Democratic parties in Nevada and Iowa, where various Democratic candidates have hired GSG in recent years, have said they will not go to GSG in the future.

“We are proud to support our unions and the workers of our country and we were outraged to learn of GSG’s involvement in union-busting efforts,” a Nevada state Democratic Party representative said in an email. mail. “As a result of what we have discovered, we will not be working with them in the future.”

CNBC contacted a dozen politicians and PACs listed as GSG clients in documents filed with the Federal Election Commission. None of the elected officials commented.

Of the labor groups contacted by CNBC, only one, the United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners, said it would continue to work with GSG.

Seth Goldstein, an attorney who represented the ALU pro bono, told CNBC that more groups needed to speak out.

“I call on all Democrats, unions and progressive organizations who have a relationship with GSG to no longer work with them until they tell us in a meaningful and transparent way what they have done for Amazon,” said Goldstein.

GSG began in 1995 as a boutique polling firm and has since expanded to provide research, public relations and consulting services. According to its website, the company “conducted polls for dozens of winning political campaigns and organizations in 2018 and 2020 to secure the current Democratic majority in the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate.”

GSG was the polling partner for Priorities USA, a super PAC that backed Biden, and worked for Democratic Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, of New York; Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Ed Markey of Massachusetts. A decade ago he employed Jen Psaki, who is now Biden’s White House press secretary.

Amazon’s union-busting techniques in Staten Island included wallpapering walls with banners reading “Vote No”, creating an anti-union website – unpackjfk8.com – and distributing presentations for workers to attend meetings.

Last week, the Amazon Labor Union filed unfair labor practice charges with the NLRB, accusing Amazon and GSG of interfering with employees’ right to organize.

Amazon has also fought hard to push back against unionization elsewhere, including in Bessemer, Alabama, where workers just wrapped up a second union vote after the first failed last year. The last election was closer and so many votes are disputed that the outcome is still uncertain.

Amazon warehouse workers have stepped up their activism during the Covid-19 pandemic, demanding safer working conditions and better pay. The best Democrats in the country rallied to their cause.

“Amazing work by the worker led @AmazonLabor in Staten Island,” Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York wrote in a tweet after the votes were counted. “Congratulations on this historic victory! And good luck as you move towards the contract.”

LOOK: Bezos addresses Amazon union vote in letter to shareholders

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