Tech

Amazon Walks a Political Tightrope in Its Union Fight

The company’s top lobbying and communications executive, Jay Carney, was a communications director for Mr. Biden during the Obama administration. President Barack Obama later named Mr. Carney the White House press secretary. He has deep relationships with Mr. Biden’s inner circle, and has played in a garage band with Secretary of State Antony Blinken.

Under Mr. Carney’s leadership, Amazon has taken steps to satisfy its liberal critics. In 2018, Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, attacked the company over its wages. Not long after that, the company announced that it would raise its minimum wage to $15 an hour and push federal policymakers to do the same.

“We listened to our critics, thought hard about what we wanted to do and decided we want to lead,” Mr. Bezos said in a statement at the time.

Amazon has promoted the $15-an-hour minimum in ads in publications frequently used to reach government officials, including Politico and The New York Times. Its lobbyists have pushed for a federal law raising the wage.

The union organizers in Bessemer have increasingly attracted support from the White House and top lawmakers in Congress. Labor leaders spent weeks pushing Mr. Biden’s staff to have him weigh in on the election at the warehouse.

Their lobbying paid off: In February, Mr. Biden appeared in a video that didn’t mention Amazon explicitly but was seen as a clear sign of support to the union. In the video, he said there “should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats” from employers in coming union elections, including in Alabama.




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