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Amazon Spent $3.1 Million On Anti-Union Consultants In 2023

Amazon spent more than $3 million on anti-union consultants last year in its continuing effort to keep organized labor out of its delivery network, according to disclosures filed Saturday with the Labor Department.

The Seattle-based retail giant has been ringing up a large tab hiring “persuaders” who try to convince workers not to form unions. It doled outmore than $14 million on such consultants last year as well.

Employers are required to disclose such spending when the consultants speak directly to workers about unionization. The figures cited in the forms generally would not include money Amazon spent on in-house work against unions or legal advice aimed at undermining organizing efforts.

Companies often pay $3,000 or more for each persuader per day, as a HuffPost investigation detailed last year. The consultants typically hold group and one-on-one meetings where they paint the union in a negative light, often ahead of a union election or while organizers are trying to gather union cards. 

Amazon has grown to be the largest warehouse employer in the country, and its expenditures on anti-union consultants are unusually high compared to others.

Mary Kate Paradis, an Amazon spokesperson, said in an email that the company was “proud to invest tens of billions of dollars in things like free college tuition, healthcare, good pay, and safety programs.”

“We also know that there are outside organizations working hard and spending heavily to spread inaccurate information about us to our teams,” Paradis added. “So ― like many other companies ― we also work to ensure our employees are fully informed about their rights and how decisions about outside representation could impact their day-to-day lives working at Amazon.”

Union supporters outside Amazon's LDJ5 facility in New York City in 2022.
Union supporters outside Amazon's LDJ5 facility in New York City in 2022. Michael M. Santiago via Getty Images

The largest beneficiary of Amazon’s spending in 2023 was Michigan-based consultant Penne Familusi, whose firm, the Rayla Group, brought in $1.3 million. Amazon paid Familusi’s firm $7.6 million the previous year.

The second highest-earning consultant last year was labor lawyer Katie Lev, who received $1.1 million from Amazon. An administrative law judge at the National Labor Relations Board ruled in January 2023 that Lev had made an illegal threat against Amazon workers by telling them their pay would be frozen and others would receive raises while they tried to negotiate a contract.

The retailer said in its filings that it hired Familusi, Lev and other consultants “in response to large scale union organizing efforts.” Their roles were to “educate employees” and help Amazon in “expressing the company’s opinion on union representation.”

Amazon is battling labor groups on a number of fronts these days.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has been trying to organize the company’s subcontracted delivery drivers, while both the Amazon Labor Union and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union have carried out campaigns inside its warehouses.

Only the ALU has managed to form a union at one of Amazon’s massive fulfillment centers, though the group is still struggling to negotiate a first contract two years after its election victory at the JFK8 warehouse in New York City.

The RWDSU lost an election at a warehouse in Alabama in 2021, but the National Labor Relations Board tossed out the results after finding Amazon violated the law and tainted the vote. The union lost a rerun election by a more narrow margin the following year.

Meanwhile, a group of subcontracted delivery drivers in California unionized last year with the Teamsters. 

The drivers technically worked for an outside firm that was part of Amazon’s “delivery service partner” network. The union has argued that Amazon is dictating the working conditions and should therefore have to bargain directly with drivers, even if they’re paid by a third party.

This story has been updated with comment from Amazon.

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