By Brian Freeman
President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed his backing for union efforts by Amazon workers in 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,” Biden wrote on Twitter. “Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.”
His tweet included a video in which he addressed the workers involved, emphasizing that the choice whether or not to organize was theirs and that there should be “no coercion” by the company.
“I have long said America wasn’t built by Wall Street,” Biden said. “It was built by the middle class, and unions built the middle class. Throughout his political career, Biden has sought to project an image as a friend of organized labor, according to Politico.
However, he has largely not been involved in attempts to organize Amazon’s employees at a location in Bessemer, Alabama, where some 6,000 workers work. Ballots were sent out to workers at the plant on February 8. Responses must be received by March 29th by the National Labor Relations Board, with counting starting the next day, NBC News reported.
Vice reported that Amazon has taken steps to convince workers to reject the union, including sending out pamphlets encouraging them to vote against organizing. Other attempts by Amazon to convince workers not to unionize has been holding mandatory meetings and establishing a website encouraging employees to “do it without dues.”
Amazon has also placed anti-union posters and messages in restrooms used by the workers.
Workers report inhumane working conditions in the sprawling Bessemer warehouse, where their every movement is monitored by the same computers that direct them to pick up products to fill orders. The workers say that the company discourages restroom breaks and send them complaint notices if they take too long to do their jobs.
If the Retail, Wholesale, Department Store Union (RWDSU) is successful in winning this election, it will be the first Amazon facility to unionize in the United States. There are 6,000 workers at the Bessemer plant who are eligible to vote.
Biden’s statement is an important indication of his support for unions and willingness to publically address this sensitive issue
By Brian Freeman