Amazon workers due to vote in a union election were told in a mandatory meeting that negotiations could start at 'minimum wage'

Amazon workers due to vote in a union election were told in a mandatory meeting that negotiations could start at 'minimum wage'
Staten Island Amazon workers protest in Times Square as they demand union rights, in New York City, December 22, 2021REUTERS/Ahmed Gaber
  • Audio from an anti-union meeting at Amazon's Staten Island JFK8 warehouse was published by Vice.
  • A union avoidance consultant told workers if they unionize, negotiations could start at minimum wage.

A union avoidance consultant told workers that if they unionize, negotiations with Amazon could start as low as minimum wage, according to audio obtained and published by Vice.

The audio was leaked from a mandatory anti-union meeting from inside Amazon's JFK8 warehouse in Staten Island on Wednesday.

In the audio, the consultant tells workers they could end up with "better, the same, or worse than you currently have" if they vote to unionize, as a union would have to enter into collective bargaining with Amazon management.

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"There are no guarantees as to what would happen, right? So we can't make any promises that things will get better or stay the same, they could get worse. We can't promise what's going to happen, Amazon can't promise you they're going to walk into negotiations and the negotiations will start from the same. They could start from minimum wage, for instance," the consultant says in the recording.

"I'm not saying that that would happen but it is a possibility," the consultant added.


At that point, an attendee interjects to say: "You're saying Amazon's gonna say —" before the consultant cuts in to say: "No, I just said I'm not saying that's what's gonna happen."

"So why put that out there?" the attendee replies.

On the same day the audio was recorded, union activists at JFK8 said a union election had been scheduled to be held between March 25 and March 30.

Amazon upped its average starting US wage to $18 per hour in September last year, Reuters reported. New York City's minimum hourly wage is $15 per hour, according to the Department of Labor.

Frank Kearl, an attorney representing worker activists at JFK8, told Vice that he believed the consultant's words amounted to a threat of retaliation.


"Even though she realized she made a mistake in making the threat, it doesn't mean the threat wasn't made and heard by all the workers who were forced to sit in on that session. It's against the law and an unfair labor practice to make a threat of reprisal," said Kearl.

Amazon did not immediately respond when contacted by Insider about the audio recording.