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White House

Biden to Amazon: Let Workforce Organize

President Biden recorded video warning Amazon to stop union-busting

Brian Young's picture
Mar 01, 2021

Since workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer Alabama announced that they were going to vote to join RWDSU, messages of support have poured in. Unions like the NFLPA have recorded videos supporting the workers and celebrities like Danny Glover have gone to the warehouse to encourage them to vote yes.

Now they have gotten the support of one of the most powerful people in the world, President Joe Biden. In a video released on Sunday night through his official POTUS Twitter handle, Biden told the workers that their efforts were vitally important as the pandemic has revealed deep disparities in the country.

"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," Biden said in a video shared on Twitter. "This is vitally important — a vitally important choice, as America grapples with the deadly pandemic, the economic crisis and the reckoning on race — what it reveals is the deep disparities that still exist in our country."

During his video, Biden also spoke directly to Amazon, albeit without mentioning them by name. Amazon has taken part in a vicious anti-union campaign. They have left anti-union propaganda in company bathrooms and even got the lights outside of the warehouse changed so that workers spent less time waiting at red lights where organizers could talk to them. In his video, Biden told Amazon, “It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union. But let me be even more clear: it’s not up to an employer to decide that either.  The choice to join a union is up to the workers – full stop.” Biden went on to say “there should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their union preferences."

The statement from President Biden is extremely rare. President’s rarely weigh in on an organizing vote, let alone put out a message warning the employer to play by the rules. Steven Greenhouse, a longtime labor reporter, tweeted that some are calling this the strongest pro-union statement by a President since FDR.

Another high-profile elected official joined in Biden’s call to support the union. Senator Bernie Sanders, who sent pizzas to union members rallying in support of Amazon workers and ran against Biden in the Democratic primary, tweeted “If Amazon workers in Alabama – a strong anti-union state – vote to form a union, it'll be a shot heard around the world. If they can negotiate higher wages & better working conditions in the South, it'll benefit every worker in America. Thank you, Mr. President, for speaking out.”

According to Reuters, President Biden met with the RWDSU shortly after inauguration day and discussed the progress of the Amazon organizing effort. In a statement following the release of the video, RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum said,

“Thank you, President Biden, for sending a clear message of support for the BAmazon Union workers in Alabama seeking to bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse with the RWDSU. 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.”

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