"Pure Lies!"Leaked Audio of Amazon's Union-Busting Meeting Shows HR Officials Pushing Workers Against Unionizing

Status Coup obtained audio that drops the curtain on one of the mandatory daily anti-union meetings Amazon has been holding at the JFK8 Staten Island warehouse where workers are trying to unionize

Status Coup has obtained audio of a contentious anti-union meeting held at Amazon’s JFK8 Staten Island warehouse on November 12 in which two company HR officials pushed anti-union messaging in an attempt to convince workers not to sign up to form a union at the massive New York warehouse for which workers began a union drive earlier this year (the 31 minute recording is at the bottom of this story).

“Who is ALU and what is ALU asking you to sign if they approach you?” Dan Tan, who’s Linkedin lists himself as a Chicago-based Amazon employee relations official, said at the start of the “peak training” meeting about Amazon Labor Union [ALU], the group of Amazon workers at JFK8 who’ve been organizing to form a union at Amazon for months.

“Directly working together is the best way to improve everything,” Tan said, pushing a common anti-union talking points that glorifies the “direct” working relationship between employers and employees that would be supposedly harmed if workers unionize.

“Direct conversation is more efficient and effective,” Tan added about the importance of Amazon’s one-on-one relationship with employees.

According to multiple workers Status Coup spoke with, Amazon began holding these mandatory sessions—led mostly by out-of-state HR officials like Tan—on a daily basis at JFK8 last week seemingly for the purpose of pushing workers not to sign onto the unionization campaign launched by the worker-led ALU. Among organized labor experts, these anti-union meetings are known as captive audience meetings and are meant to intimidate and confuse workers about forming a union.

The decision by Amazon to hold the mandatory daily union-busting sessions is a reaction to ALU recently filing to hold a union election with the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB], Connor Spence, a worker and member of ALU, told Status Coup.

“We filed and there is a lot of pro-union sentiment,” he said. Spence pointed out that Amazon is also holding these anti-union sessions to collect polling data about worker sentiment on the union, which, according to Spence, is an “unlawful polling” effort that ALU has already filed charges against Amazon for with the NLRB.

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“They are using these meetings as a way to gather data by monitoring how workers speak out and what kind of questions they ask,” Spence told Status Coup. “However I think we’ve been so disruptive in these meetings that they haven’t gotten much useful data.”

Amazon did not respond to questions about this accusation and the November 12 anti-union meeting. Responding to VICE’s Motherboard, who published audio from a similar anti-union meeting held on November 11, a company spokesperson said: “We regularly hold meetings with our employees as our focus remains on listening directly to them and continuously improving on their behalf…it’s our employees’ choice whether or not to join a union. It always has been.”

In the November 12 anti-union meeting, Mike, who opened the meeting identifying himself as an employee relations official, and a worker who identified as part of the ALU, got into a tense exchange after Mike and Dan T. hammered the point that ALU is an unauthorized “third party”—i.e. a union—getting in between the supposedly strong direct relationship between Amazon and its workers.

As Status Coup has reported on-the-ground from Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse in recent months, workers revealed a horrid picture vastly different from a strong, direct relationship between Amazon and employees; one that included sweltering heat inside the warehouse leading to workers being carted off on stretchers, workers operating under extreme productivity quotas and constant threats of termination, lack of social distancing and other safety precautions amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, female workers being sexually harassed by male managers, full-time homeless workers sleeping in their cars outside the warehouse, and a consistent siren of ambulances coming to and from the warehouse whisking workers away.

Amazon has also littered its massive Staten Island warehouse with anti-union signs while HR officials improperly confiscated pro-union literature from break rooms.

“I’m part of the ALU, and we are not a third-party,” a worker shot back at one of the employee relations officials leading the November 12 meeting, adding that under federal labor law “every employee has a right to organize.”

“We are compromised of current Amazon workers that’s doing this being in a union town that is New York City. It is not right that Amazon is calling ALU a third-party,” the worker said.

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“I appreciate your input and perspective,” Tan responded before again stressing that ALU is a separate legal entity not under the umbrella of Amazon.

Mike, the other employee relations official, grew testy in response to the worker challenging Amazon HR’s anti-union messaging.

“I want to bring it back to your first statement about ALU not being a third party; they’re 100 percent, the ALU as an identity, is a third party; members of the ALU could also be employed at Amazon such as yourself, right? It is legally OK to be employed at one place and be a member of another identity. But the ALU as an organization is not part of Amazon even though Amazon is in their title; the ALU, as an identity, and as what they filed as a union, is not part of Amazon, so they are a third party.”

Later on in the meeting, Tan stressed that ALU is “not authorized to speak for Amazon” and, as a union, could charge workers dues, fees, and fines in exchange for representing the workers.

“By signing either an electronic or physical one [union card], you could be authorizing the ALU to speak for you and you could be obligated to pay the union dues,” he said.

“Amazon is playing the trick of delaying the process [of a union election] like they do with every legal process with every single employee,” the worker who had challenged the HR officials previously contested.

“Lies, pure lies,” the worker, growing more frustrated by the anti-union messaging, said as the HR officials continued speaking.

Last week, ALU withdrew their union vote petition after the NLRB told the group that it needed to secure more signatures from workers expressing support for holding a union election.

Christian Smalls, a fired Amazon worker and whistleblower who is one of ALU’s leaders, tweeted that the group had submitted over 2,000 pro-union signatures but due to Amazon’s extremely high employee turnover—and the company firing a lot of the workers who had signed union cards—ALU fell short of meeting the NLRB threshold to hold a union vote.

Amazon isn’t the only corporate Goliath currently waging a scorched earth anti-union campaign.

As Status Coup recently covered on-the-ground in Buffalo New York, Starbucks executives have held similar union-busting meetings with its workforce amidst their union drive (the NLRB ruled in favor of a union election for three Starbucks locations in Buffalo; election ballots were sent out on November 10 despite Starbucks appealing to the NLRB in Washington to overrule the regional New York board’s approval of the election).

Most recently, Howard Schultz, the former CEO of Starbucks, led a meeting with workers at a Buffalo hotel in which he offered a bizarre analogy—describing prisoners in German concentration having to share the scarce amount of blankets with one another—during a union-busting presentation.

Below is an audio recording obtained by Status Coup of the anti-union meeting at Amazon’s JFK8 Staten Island warehouse on November 12th:

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Workers REVOLT: Our Report from the Front Lines of John Deere Strike in Iowa and Illinois

"Corporate media had us believing that we’re just lucky to have a job,” Toby Munley, a John Deere electrician in Ottumwa Iowa, tells Status Coup as we report ON-THE-GROUND in Iowa and Illinois

We started reporting on a frigid Thursday in Ottumwa Iowa, a small city of 24,000 cushioned in southeast Iowa just 66 miles from the Missouri border.

As I parked, the energy and excitement across the street was electric among the 20 plus John Deere workers—20 out of 10,000 Deere workers currently on strike—boisterously cheering on the picket line outside of Deere’s Ottumwa Works plant when the constant hoard of cars driving by honked in support.

Workers stood tall holding their UAW picket signs lined up around a tent, burn barrels to keep warm, and donated food and drinks.

It was day eight of the first John Deere strike in 35 years; workers had overwhelmingly rejected Deere’s insulting contract offer that essentially offered them a few bucks extra over several years while Deere is on its way to its most profitable year on record with a projection of $6 billion in profits.

[WATCH our ON-THE-GROUND reporting from the John Deere Strike in Ottumwa, Iowa; Davenport, Iowa; East Moline, Illinois; and Waterloo, Iowa].

“We have political systems that are characterized by legalized bribery,” Chris Laursen, a 19-year veteran John Deere worker on strike in Ottumwa Iowa, told Status Coup.

Laursen, a former local UAW president who has been one of the workers spearheading the Deere strike on-the-ground in Iowa, told us that the strike against Deere is just one piece of organized labor’s collective reawakening.

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“Right now we’re seeing a resurgence in the labor movement and United Auto Workers and John Deere workers are ready to spearhead that movement,” Laursen said.

Laursen and other workers in Ottumwa told Status Coup about the physically and mentally backbreaking work they’ve done—in many cases for decades—that has enrich CEOs, executives, and shareholders while leaving them begging for decent wages and retirement security.

10-hour days operating dangerous machinery; three Saturday shifts a month; missing your kid’s ballgame or prom; broken marriages stemming from missing spouses.

“We’re the richest country in the world—we brag about that,” Toby Munley, a veteran electrician with John Deere in Ottumwa, told Status Coup about the disconnect between the mythology of America versus the harsh reality for the working class standing on the plant floor.

“Yet we’ve got the majority of our people, which is the working class, that are going out everyday and being forced for both spouses to have a job to get ahead in this life. But what you call getting ahead—if that’s a new car, a boat, or an occasional weekend at the lake or a week’s vacation or two—ultimately what’s really I feel suffering is the very fabric of what this country was built on and that’s our families.”

Well, in response to John Deere workers fighting back, Deere has chosen to literally try and freeze them out.

The company filed for an injunction with a Judge in Davenport Iowa, claiming the picketing workers were intimidating contractors and workers still entering the plant while also blocking their entry.

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The Judge granted Deere’s injunction request and went as far to ban them from brining chairs or burn barrels to the picket lines—making it extremely difficult to stay out on the picket lines 24/7 without ways to keep warm as the weather in Iowa creeps toward the winter chill.

“I’m also a former veteran, I served in Vietnam, and it makes me extremely upset when I see judges fighting against the workers in this country to go out and legally strike; that’s what’s wrong,” Randy Donnelly, a retired machinist from the army installation at Rock Island arsenal, told Status Coup at a rally on Friday where community members protested against the obscene injunction trying to break the strike.

Donnelly, who worked at the arsenal for 33 years and was a former Vice President at AFGE Local 2119, dismissed the 40-year propaganda perpetuated by politicians and corporate media that workers should thank their lucky stars just to have a job.

“You would think that a union would be against capitalism, but we’re not. We think capitalism’s great but the problem with capitalism is you gotta share. It’s the workers going out there making this work; I go and I trade my labor for a wage. You’re not giving me nothing. I’m making that wage. I’m out there working for you performing a service and I need to be able to participate in that. If you look back a good company is not because you have a smart CEO; you got a good company because the employees are out there working for that company and making them good.”

Donnelly is right—the workers don’t owe John Deere or corporate America a thing. But as Will, a 14-year John Deere veteran in East Moline Illinois told Status Coup, the reality is these corporate overlords couldn’t care less if workers thrive or drown as long as profits keep humming.

“We're just a number to [John Deere]. We're as replaceable as a light bulb,” Will told Status Coup.

Toby Munley’s words about the corporate media’s 40-year neoliberal brainwashing were particularly poignant and drove home a point I’ve been making for years: actual everyday working class people are way more intelligent, articulate, and genuine than all the wealthy political pundits draining our brains on cable news and in print.

“In a lot of ways corporate media had us believing that we’re just lucky to have a job,” Munley told Status Coup, adding that corporate media brainwashed the masses to believe that “if you’re still at a place that still offers insurance and you’re not paying you’re lucky.”

“Well what’s happened is these corporations, even though they’re competitors, have formed more or less a union over themselves, to make us believe that we’re lucky.”

This ON-THE-GROUND reporting on the strike wave spreading across America is expensive (flights, hotels, rent-a-cars, and food for my cameraman and I). SIGN UP as a paid Status Substack member for $5 bucks a month to support this important reporting.

"Back Up, Back Up!" Proud Boys Rallyers Harass "Antifa Press"

“Harassing journalists is seen as a patriotic duty," independent journalist Tina-Desiree Berg tells Status Coup after being verbally harassed at Proud Boys rally in Los Angeles

The Proud Boys pride apparently softens when independent journalists simply record their actives at…Proud Boy rallies.

That’s what happened on Saturday as independent journalist Tina-Desiree Berg, a frequent freelance contributor for Status Coup, covered the Proud Boys “Fall Love Fest” rally in Los Angeles for Status Coup.

The rally, the third-leg of gatherings the group held after Portland Oregon and Tacoma Washington—both of which had shootings occur—had been promoted ahead of the event Saturday before organizers abruptly posted a CANCELED sign over the poster due to the city refusing to grant the group a permit to hold the rally.

But Proud Boys held the rally anyway, resulting in independent journalist Tina-Desiree Berg, a frequent freelance contributor for Status Coup whose covered Proud Boys, MAGA, and “medical freedom” rallies in Los Angeles for over a year, showing up with her camera to cover the event.

Well, rallygoers sure didn’t like Desiree Berg’s presence—or previous coverage of their often violent actions.

[Watch Tina’s on-the-ground reporting for Status Coup from the rally below]

“Antifa press,” Tony Moon, a rallygoer who was also present on January 6th at the Capitol Hill insurrection, said as he approached Desiree Berg.

“So what brings you by, you going to dox people today?” Moon continued, going on to accuse Desiree Berg of being an “Antifa sympathizer.”

[For the record, Desiree Berg never doxxed Proud Boys members or rallygoers nor does she work for, or with, Antifa.]

Moon also condemned Desiree Berg for “talking shit about us” to the Los Angeles Times.

This “talking shit” was in reference to an LA Times story reporting on an August incident where Moon attacked Desiree Berg at an LA “medical freedom” rally—i.e. anti-vaxx rally—Desiree Berg covered.

During the incident, Moon grabbed Desiree-Berg and attempted to pull her protective mask down. In a separate incident, a person was stabbed at the rally.

“Back up, back up!” Desiree Berg shouted at Moon at the Saturday “Love Fest” rally as he continued verbally harassing her and invading her personal space.

None of Moon’s actions surprised Desiree Berg.

“In their insular universe these folks view themselves as purveyors of good against evil,” Desiree Berg told Status Coup in response to the verbal harassment she experienced on Saturday from Moon along with other rallygoers.

She continued:

“They are very motivated by wild conspiracy theories and have been radicalized in Telegram chat rooms and on other social media echo chambers. Anyone that criticizes their beliefs is automatically viewed as an enemy and liar. They are also happy to be in the limelight as they find the attention edifying. Harassing journalists is seen as a patriotic duty. It is frustrating because it is impossible to report on what’s happening when their childish antics  become the main thrust of what’s happening. then they  get angry because they think you made them look bad-  when in reality they did that all on their own.”

Desiree Berg isn’t the only journalist Proud Boys has distorted into Antifa members and sympathizers; scores of independent journalists who, at personal risk to their own safety, have covered Proud Boys often violent events have been chastised—and threatened—by the group’s members and allies if their coverage wasn’t sufficiently favorable or loyal to the Proud Boys worldview.

The truth is, actual journalists who report in dangerous situations—where people’s animosity often points directly at them—are also human beings. The hostile treatment, and physical confrontation toward them, by groups like the Proud Boys certainly causes journalists to have to re-examine and weigh the pros and cons of continuing to cover groups like the Proud Boys.

Nonetheless, Desiree Berg isn’t going anywhere.

“I will definitely continue to cover these events and what surrounds them,” she told Status Coup. “I don’t think what they represent is disappearing any time soon- and I think the potential for an increase in violence and hateful ideas exists. I think it needs to have a light focused on it. There are very real consequences for not checking them.”

Want more investigative reporting and unique commentary about the controlled demolition of the working class and most vulnerable? SIGN UP as a paid Status Substack member for $5 bucks a month (you get great perks).

Big Oil Insanity: D.C. Yawns After Two Major Spills in California and Texas in Five Days

Status Coup has been ON-THE-GROUND for years covering the fossil f**kers destruction of communities and the broader planet; can they be stopped?

On October 1st, 144,000 gallons of crude oil spilled into the Pacific Ocean, resulting in the closure of beaches, contamination of ecological habitats and placing the lives of animals and humans who live in the area at risk.

The source of the spill, which came from the busting of a 17-mile long pipeline buried 98 feet under water, is currently being investigated; authorities believe a 13-inch tear of the pipeline shifted it 105 feet out of place.

Five days later, a major spill happened 1,400 miles east of California at a Marathon Petroleum refinery in Texas; media estimates thousands of gallons were released in Texas City, Texas.

WATCH the video below showing footage of both spills along with Status Coup’s ON-THE-GROUND reporting over several years on the fossil f**kers destruction of our planet and threats and intimidation toward regular everyday people.

Unsurprisingly, the corporate media and Democratic Party with majority control of Congress collectively yawned in response to this ecological terrorism which, fundamentally, should be what corporations destroying the planet is referred to.

I’ve seen this time and time again reporting on-the-ground across America: fossil fuel companies who’ve bought off Democrats and Republicans nationally along with local politicians having free rein to spill, explode, and destroy indigenous, Black, and brown people’s—and now more and more working class white communities— water, air, animal life, and sacred burial grounds.

And for what?

Red Terry, a scrappy, fiery red-headed Virginian said it best in 2018 when Status Coup spoke with her during our on-the-ground coverage of the fight against Mountain Valley Pipeline; a fracked gas pipeline being rammed through their home in Bent Mountain Virginia and underneath the broader Appalachian Trail. That trail is one of most beautiful paths in America gifted with scenic hiking and natural habitats.

So, of course, why wouldn’t the greedy fossil fuel executives want to destroy it and threaten the lives of the people who live there if and when the pipeline explodes?

“Polluting the water, since when is profit more important than water…when is profit more important than people? I don’t understand that,” Red said to me on her porch.

Unfortunately, you’ll never see Red, or her daughter Minor—who bravely built tree houses on their property, climbed up them, and protested atop their community forrest for over a month to stop the greedy fossil fuel company from tearing down their trees in their quest to ram the pipeline through their property— on cable news or quoted in the New York Times.

Their story of bearing through freezing temperatures, snow, rain and going to the bathroom in buckets in order to stop the planet-destroying greed dropped on their doorstep won’t lead cable news segments like the latest in Manchin mania (according to The Washington Post, Mountain Valley Pipeline estimated the Terry’s cost the pipeline around $45,000 due to enhanced security costs around the pipeline and delays to construction).

You won’t get to see Red’s pain when relaying the horror’s her and her family have gone though.

"They came through a few days ago and cut all around me," Red Terry told EcoWatch. "My daughter is also in a tree and had them on all four sides of her. She cried all day. Nobody should have the right to eminent domain for something that is not going to help people. It's to help themselves, profit before the people."

Heartbreak turns to rage the more Terry shared.

"When they were cutting my trees and I had tears running down my face, the cops were watching the devastation also, I looked at one of them and I thought he was going to start crying. At the same time, four Mountain Valley Pipeline security guards were laughing, carrying on, and thought it was the greatest thing in the world."

This kind of fossil fuel treachery, exploitation, and destruction is happening all over America with the complete support of politicians and police—the latter who has brutalized indigenous water protectors and their white allies at Standing Rock and, more recently, in Minnesota as water protectors battled throughout a pandemic to stop Enbridge’s tar sands pipeline from threatening their reservation, water, animal life, and ancestors’ burial grounds.

We will continue to see more spills, more explosions, and more misery as older and hastily constructed pipelines’ deterioration wreaks havoc through communities.

Of course, Americans are exhausted fighting corruption and injustice across multiple lines; from COVID to ever-growing income inequality to corporate exploitation and union-busting and a whole host of other treachery.

Collectively, if people don’t begin to add their wallets to their bodies protesting, what you see will continue to be what we get. The only way politicians will act is when their donors’ profits and interests are directly threatened.

And the way to do that is economically boycotting along with traditional protesting of banks, corporations, communities, and corporate media who do business with the fossil fuel companies destroying our planet.

The planet’s clock is ticking.

Want more investigative reporting and unique commentary about the controlled demolition of the working class and most vulnerable? SIGN UP as a paid Status Substack member for $5 bucks a month (you get great perks).

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