Days Before Boycott, Congress Meets with Amazon Union
A congressional delegation headed to Alabama to support the workers
With just a few weeks left in the Amazon election in Bessemer, Alabama, support for the workers is pouring in from around the country. During the week from Sunday, March 7th through Saturday March 13thworkers from around the country are supporting Amazon workers by boycotting the company. They have also received support from other unions, celebrities, and even the President of the United States.
On Friday, a Congressional delegation was brought to Bessemer by the President of the RWDSU, Stuart Appelbaum. The delegation included U.S. Representatives Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Terri Sewell, and Nikema Williams. Bowman, Bush, and Williams are all newly elected Black Congressmembers, Sewell represents the warehouse, and Levin was an AFL-CIO organizer before getting elected to Congress.
“I consider this election in Bessemer... to be the David and Goliath story of labor relations in the 21st Century,” Levin said in an interview with Reuters. He went on to describe Amazon’s actions as “egregious”, especially those such as “trying to force an in-person election in a pandemic hotspot.”
Sewell noted that this isn’t the first time that the world is watching this area of Alabama. She said the workers are following in a rich tradition of fighting for civil rights and human rights. She also noted that this Sunday, Alabama remembers Bloody Sunday, which happened just south of Bessemer in Selma Alabama, and that these workers at Amazon walk in their footsteps.
“The importance of this election can not be underestimated,” said Appelbaum. “Every working person in the country has a stake in this election. Amazon’s business model has been taking public subsidies, paying little or no taxes, and dehumanizing and mistreating its employees. And that’s intolerable. That’s what the workers in Bessemer are saying. This cannot continue. Every working person deserves to be treated with dignity and respect and we will accept no less.”
Another freshman Congressman, Jamal Bowman traveled down from New York to meet with the workers. He said that he heard stories from the workers that showed “a culture of abuse, a culture of surveillance and monitoring workers every second of every day. If workers get out of line, they receive some form of a demerit and if you accumulate enough demerits then you are fired from your job. Are we dealing with machines and widgets or are we dealing with human beings? We are here to stand up for the humanity of the Amazon worker.”
Congresswoman Cori Bush, who represents St. Louis, addressed Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos asking him “how dare he” cut hazard pay for Amazon employees while making $70 Billion. She also noted that 20,000 Amazon workers contracted COVID-19. “We call on you Brother Bezos to do right by your workers, do right by the people that prop you up. We are asking you to treat people with decency and respect, treat them like they are human.” Bush also said that Bezos has flown down to Bessemer and was in town during the meeting, but was not willing to meet with the Congressional delegation. Bush later tweeted that this was a personal issue to her because someone close to her was just fired from the company.
Voting on joining RWDSU will continue through the end of the month. You can do your part to support the Amazon workers in Bessemer by not shopping there next week.