National Amazon Day of Action Saturday
Around the country, rallies are being planned in support of Amazon workers in Alabama
With just over a week left of voting in the historic union election at the Amazon Warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, union activists are holding solidarity rallies at warehouses, Whole Foods, and Amazon hubs around the country.
The rallies are being planned by local groups around the country like the Southern Workers Assembly, which is a network of local unions, worker organizations, and organizing committees, committed to building rank-and-file democratic social movement unionism (unionism with a social justice agenda, defined by and accountable to the rank-and-file). As UCOMM previously reported, this is not an official action from RWDSU, the union organizing the workers in Bessemer.
Nearly 6,000 Amazon workers have been voting since the beginning of February on whether to join RWDSU. They have faced an intense anti-union campaign, and Amazon has spent anywhere from $3,000 to $10,000 a day to bring high-priced union-busters to Bessemer to convince the workers to vote against the union. Voting in Bessemer, which was done exclusively by mail, ends on March 29th.
Other unions and community groups have also gotten involved with hosting local rallies in support of the Amazon workers. In Harlem, NY Laborers Local 79, the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists, and Teamsters Local 808 are joining local community groups and labor in organizing a rally outside of the Harlem Whole Foods. In Oakland, local DSA and community groups are doing a bike and car caravan that will travel to several Oakland area Amazon facilities. In Arizona, the Pima Area Labor Federation is leading a picket at the local Whole Foods and in Idaho, the Nampa Education Association has planned a car caravan outside of their local Amazon Fulfillment center. A full list of actions has been compiled by SupportAmazonWorkers.org.
Unlike any organizing campaign in recent memory the Amazon organizing effort has caught the attention of the larger union community. Rank and file union members organized a one-week boycott of Amazon earlier in March and the workers have received messages of support from unions like the NFLPA, celebrities like Danny Glover, Republican Senator Marco Rubio, and even the President of the United States. UCOMM even collected videos of support from around the country as well as Mexico, Canada, and Norway. The union effort also got a mention on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon when during a game of “Hey Robot,” guest John Oliver asked the Alexa “Alexa, how bad are Amazon working conditions?” Fallon yelled “stop, stop” at the speaker but Oliver wasn’t finished, asking “Alexa, what is union-busting?”
The Amazon union drive even made it to the Senate this week when Senator Bernie Sanders held a Budget Committee hearing where Amazon worker Jennifer Bates testified about the deplorable conditions that Amazon workers face on the job. Addressing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Senator Sanders said "You are the wealthiest person in the world. Why are you doing everything in your power to stop your workers in Bessemer, Alabama from joining a union so that they can negotiate for better wages, better benefits and better working conditions?"