As a historic Amazon union vote gets underway in Alabama, President Joe Biden expressed his support for workers' right to unionize.
In a video posted to Twitter, United States President Joe Biden threw support behind workers unionizing. Although he did not mention the company by name, it was evident that he was referring to Amazon. Employees at the e-retail giant Amazon are holding a milestone vote on unionizing. For several years now, the company has quashed attempts to unionize. However, after historic demonstrations by workers, a vote is finally underway. The president referenced workers in Alabama, where the union election is currently taking place at an Amazon facility in Bessemer. Workers who are eligible are casting their votes by mail in order to decide whether to form the firm's first union based in the country, CNN reports.
“MLK said the best anti poverty program he knows of is the union. That’s why I’m here.” Actor and activist Danny Glover is here speaking outside the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama about why he supports @BAmazonUnion workers pic.twitter.com/qAf1WX1A8I— Lauren Kaori Gurley (@LaurenKGurley) February 22, 2021
"Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama, and all across America, are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace," President Biden states in the video. "There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their union preferences. You know, every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. The law guarantees that choice." He argued that America was built not by Wall Street, but by the middle class. He affirms, "Unions built the middle class."
Let me congratulate the workers at Amazon for having the incredible courage to stand up and to fight for a union. The fight you are waging will send a message to workers all across the country that if they stand up, stand together, and fight, they can win. pic.twitter.com/7cG5v6elCb— Bernie Sanders (@BernieSanders) February 24, 2021
Listing the benefits of establishing unions, such as guaranteeing health and safety, ensuring higher wages, and preventing racial discrimination and sexual harassment, Biden expresses the importance of unions as a method of "lifting up workers, both union and non-union, but especially Black and Brown workers." He also reiterates his administration's support for the right to organize and collectively bargain. Additionally, he reflects on the language of that National Labor Unions Act, which he claimed did not just "allow" unions, rather, encouraged them. "It's not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union," he states. "It's not up to an employer to decide that either. The choice to join a union is up to the workers, full stop."
Nurses, teachers, auto workers, postal workers. Unions from all over (even Europe) are asking how they can help @rwdsu unionize an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. The outpouring of solidarity and organizing support is a sign of how much is at stake. Story: https://t.co/WK5NwWvAHd— Dave Jamieson (@jamieson) February 24, 2021
The president's remarks come as a scathing response to Amazon's recent attempts at suppressing the voices of protesting employees. On more than one occasion, the company has tried to silence frustrated workers, docking pay and even terminating those who refuse to remain quiet in the face of severe discrimination and hazardous work environments. According to previous reports, workers were confronted with anti-union signage on the bathroom stalls when using the toilet, and even an anti-union website that warns against paying dues. It reads, "Don't buy that dinner, don't buy those school supplies, don't buy those gifts because you won't have that almost $500 you paid in dues."
NEW: Amazon is running glossy anti-union ads to combat the organizing drive by workers at their Bessemer, AL, warehouse. An Alabama resident said this spot is one of several that Amazon is now running on Twitch. pic.twitter.com/6WlojetvzY— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) February 23, 2021
Given this context, Biden's video was well-received, particularly by Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union, which is conducting the union drive for Amazon workers at the Bessemer facility. He thanked Biden for his words and affirmed in a statement, "As President Biden points out, the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is by organizing into unions. And that is why so many working women and men are fighting for a union at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama."
Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.— President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2021
Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. pic.twitter.com/2lzbyyii1g