News & Commentary

April 20, 2022

Jason Vazquez

Jason Vazquez is a student at Harvard Law School.

Politico reported yesterday that the Democratic National Committee (DNC) is considering inserting a provision into its contracts that would prohibit consulting firms associated with the Democratic Party from contributing to corporate union-busting efforts or lobbying for anti-union legislation. The news comes three weeks after a CNBC report revealed that prominent consulting firm Global Strategy Group (GSG), a leading polling partner for the Democratic Party, had been retained by Amazon to engage in anti-union activities as part of the e-commerce giant’s costly, though ultimately futile, battle against Chris Smalls and the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) at the JFK8 packaging facility in Staten Island. The proposed contract modification would require consulting firms to certify that they don’t help any other clients “persuade employees or workers to not form or join a union,” “aid a client (other than a union or labor organization) in a labor dispute,” or “assist clients to advance legislation . . . opposed by the labor movement.”

Though the Democratic Party is reportedly only “reviewing the proposal,” at least some labor leaders seems convinced that the decision has already been made—in a statement, AFL-CIO President Liz Schuler commended the DNC’s “decision to amend their contract and RFP processes . . . to exclude firms actively working with clients who seek to prevent or limit working people’s basic rights to act collectively.” For its part, GSG has apologized for its anti-union activities and insists that it “fully agree[s]” to these proposed standards and is unilaterally “incorporating them into our client contracts.”

In other Amazon news, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced on Monday that workers at a small Amazon warehouse in New Jersey, DNK5, had successfully petitioned for a union representation election to join Local 713 International Brotherhood of Trade Unions (IBOTU), but that petition was suddenly withdrawn yesterday, for reasons that remain unclear.

On the other side of the Hudson River, the exciting movement to unionize corporate behemoths continues, as workers at Apple Inc.’s flagship store within Grand Central Terminal in the heart of New York City have launched a unionization campaign, attempting to certify the first union at the multinational tech titan valued at over $2 trillion. The workers are seeking to join Workers United, a progressive affiliate of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), and organizers are reportedly in the process of collecting authorization cards from employees in the store but haven’t yet filed an election petition with the NLRB. According to employees who spoke to the Washington Post, at least three other Apple retail stores are also in the process of forming a union.

On Tuesday afternoon, a tentative new contract agreement was announced between 32BJ SEIU, representing more than 30,000 residential building workers across New York City, and the Realty Advisory Board on Labor Relations (RAB), which represents the landlords and companies that employ these doormen. The agreement averts a looming strike that was slated to begin on Thursday, which the workers had authorized last week.  The doormen, who effectively serve as security guards and personal assistants to the wealthy residents of luxurious apartment complexes in the Big Apple, secured wage increases averaging more than 12 percent over four years, which the president of the RAB deemed “much, much higher” than in any past contract and a 32BJ press release proclaimed to be the “highest raises in 32BJ SEIU history,” as well as a cash bonus, while maintaining their current benefits, including employer-funded healthcare, sick leave, vacation time, and pensions. The deal remains to be ratified by 32BJ membership.

Finally, Nintendo employees filed a complaint with the NLRB alleging that the video game developer interfered with their protected § 7 rights to organize and engage in concerted activities. The complaint includes allegations of, inter alia, unlawful threats, surveillance, retaliation, and discharge by the company. The charge is the latest in a wave of labor activism within the gaming industry.

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