Lawmakers present solidarity for the Amazon union vote in Alabama

Rally organized by the Workers’ Assembly Against Racism in support of workers in the Amazon camp in Bessemer, Alabama, to unionize rights in Union Square across from Amazon’s Whole Foods Market.

Lev Radin | LightRocket | Getty Images

A group of Democratic Congressmen traveled to an Amazon warehouse in Alabama on Friday to show support for workers in the middle of a closely watched union vote.

Legislators who visited the Amazon plant in Bessemer, Alabama included representatives Andy Levin from Michigan, Jamaal Bowman from New York, Cori Bush from Missouri, Terri Sewell from Alabama, and Nikema Williams from Georgia. Legislators met with some workers at the facility known as BHM1 before heading to the warehouse.

“I want Amazon employees across the country to be vigilant because you should be doing the same in your workplace,” Bowman said Friday at a press conference outside the RWDSU Mid-South Council Union Hall in Birmingham, Alabama. “And we’re not stopping at Amazon. This is Lyft, this is Uber, this is Walmart, this is Tesla – we stand by your side for all the companies in this country that continue to be abusive and provide terrible working conditions for workers.” “

Speaking at the press conference, Bowman said the union campaign in Alabama shows the need to better protect workers at Amazon and other companies in the US. He described the work environment at Amazon as a “culture of abuse” and surveillance.

“When workers get out of line, they get some kind of error, and if you accumulate enough errors, they get fired from your job,” Bowman said. “Are we dealing with machines or widgets, or are we dealing with people?”

Earlier this month, nearly 6,000 workers at the Bessmer office voted by mail to join the retail, wholesale and department store union. This marked the start of the company’s first major union effort since 2014. Last November, workers at the Alabama office informed the NLRB of their plans to vote on representation by the RWDSU.

Legislative support comes just days after President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed his solidarity with Amazon workers trying to unionize the Bessemer facility and telling them to “have your voice heard.” procure “. Biden did not specifically name Amazon, but did refer to “workers in Alabama”.

Several employees from the Bessemer Amazon plant also took part in the briefing. Kevin Jackson, a BHM1 employee, said the union campaign is about ensuring that Amazon employees “have a seat at the table like everyone else”.

“We’re here to say we won’t be intimidated by someone who tries to say they’ll fire us for what we want,” said Jackson.

Amazon employee Kevin Jackson speaks about the moves of RWDSU Mid-South Headquarters prior to a congressional delegation touring a nearby Amazon plant to demonstrate their support for workers in Birmingham, Alabama on March 5, 2021 Vote for union formation.

Dustin Chambers | Reuters

Amazon previously stated that it respects workers’ right to join a union, but also that its workers do not need a union to get between them and the company. Amazon has made its position on the union campaign clear to workers at the Bessemer facility by holding compulsory meetings to expose the case against union formation and launching a website asking workers “to act free of charge.” “.

In a statement, Amazon spokeswoman Heather Knox encouraged lawmakers to visit one of the company’s fulfillment centers to monitor working conditions.

“We hope these members of Congress will put the same amount of energy into raising the minimum wage to $ 15 an hour – as Amazon did for all of our employees in 2018,” Knox said in a statement. “We pride ourselves on paying more than double the federal minimum wage while delivering comprehensive benefits, paid time off, and short- and long-term career growth – all in a safe, modern work environment.”

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