Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren wrote a letter to Amazon on Tuesday demanding that the company share details about “anti-union materials and activities” at its subsidiary Whole Foods.
Amazon produced and sent a 45-minute anti-union training video to team leaders at Whole Foods last month, Gizmodo reported. The video states: “We do not believe unions are in the best interest of our customers, our shareholders, or most importantly, our associates. Our business model is built upon speed, innovation, and customer obsession-things that are generally not associated with union.”
Sanders, a Democrat from Vermont, and Warren, a Democrat from Massachusetts, now want Amazon to share the video, a list of Whole Food locations where it was viewed and details on any external law firms or consulting companies that may have helped with its development.
The senators also want Amazon to provide copies of any additional materials related to organizing activities that may have been given to Whole Foods team leaders, as well as information on whether Amazon workers were fired or faced retaliation for speaking up against working conditions. Sanders and Warren ask for answers by Nov. 1.
Sanders and Warren are concerned Amazon may end up violating the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) by illegally spying on employees’ union activities or creating the impression that they’re doing so. The video also reportedly tells Whole Food supervisors that they “might need to talk about how having a union could hurt innovation, which could hurt customer obsession, which could ultimately threaten the building’s continued existence.” Sanders and Warren said this could reasonably be interpreted as a “threat that an employee’s workplace may close if he or she supports a union or engages in union activity,” which they said violates the NLRA.
Amazon’s video was reportedly leaked just before the company said it wouldin the US after mounting pressure from critics, . The senators wrote that they appreciate Amazon’s attention to raising wages, “But it is important to recognize that workers’ rights do not stop at the minimum wage, and raising the pay of your lowest-paid workers, while important, does not give you a free pass to engage in potentially illegal anti-union behavior.”
Sanders and Warren also note that without a union, Amazon can cancel the wage increase or cut compensation. The e-commerce giant was met with criticism when it eliminated monthly bonuses and stock rewards following its pledge to boost wages. In response, Amazon.
An Amazon representative said the company received the letter from Sanders and Warren, and will directly respond to them.
“Amazon respects the individual rights of employees and has an open-door policy that encourages employees to bring their comments, questions, and concerns directly to their management team,” the representative said. “We firmly believe this direct connection is the most effective way to understand and respond to the needs of our workforce.”
Here’s the full letter from Sanders and Warren: