The roughly 5,800 Amazon employees in Alabama could change the course of union rights in America.
Yesterday ended a landmark vote to decide on the creation of the US tech group’s first consortium, a milestone in itself that caught President Joe Biden’s attention. In a video clip published at the end of last week without explicitly mentioning the company, he encouraged workers to participate in the vote, supported their right to organize, and indicated that “the company should not intimidate or threaten unions.” All this is a direct reference to the multinational company founded by Jeff Bezos, who, through a website and letters in the warehouses, tried to stop consulting by warning workers that joining costs could cut their money to cover school expenses.
The company warned workers about union expenses
The results of the vote – which began seven weeks ago by mail due to restrictions on the pandemic – will be announced in the coming days. If the majority chose yes, trade unionism would score one of the greatest wins of recent times, not just through penetration. Big technology (Where there is hardly any organizational culture), but with the entry of the second largest employer in the United States (the first being Walmart). This phenomenon could extend to 800 factories in the country, which employ half a million employees, just less than half of the global workforce. On the other hand, if the majority chooses not – it appears to have been adjusted according to information from various agencies – the vote will show that something is changing among the employees of the new economy.
Since the outbreak of the epidemic, there have been complaints about job insecurity for warehouse workers. In many cases, they denounced the lack of anti-virus protection materials (ten Amazon employees died from the virus).
In a video
President Joe Biden has spoken out in favor of union rights
Workers at the Bessimer plant, south of Birmingham, Alabama, a decades-old low mining area, were the first to collectively denounce the unrest. The reason was not the salary of € 15 an hour (the minimum in Alabama is € 7) but because of the marathon hours: 10 hours of standing, loading and unloading, with only two 30-minute breaks and without permission to go to the bathroom between meals. In September, just a few months after the plant went into operation, black workers (who make up the majority) applied for support to the Retail, Wholesale and Store Association (RWDSU), a federation with a presence in the commerce sector. In December, promoters managed to collect 2,000 signatures to organize the consultation, and in February, voting began. Joshua Breuer, RWDSU’s local leader, celebrated this historic day by announcing to Agence France-Presse: “Amazon’s biggest fear has already been fulfilled: Around 3,000 workers said they don’t want to work in these conditions.”
These days, Hollywood actors and players from the National Football League have come to demonstrate. The Black Paper Movement has also raised its issue of support, as has Democratic leader Bernie Sanders, who this weekend traveled to the Alabama plant. Whatever the outcome, the Bessemer vote made history.