RWDSU Disavows Boycott Amazon
Their statement said they had no part in the boycott or the actions scheduled for March 20th
This week, union members from around the country and the world have taken part in a grassroots effort to boycott Amazon. The decision to take part in this boycott was to support the workers in Bessemer Alabama who are voting on joining RWDSU and to also let the company know that consumers are not happy with Amazon’s union-busting tactics.
Last Sunday, as the boycott was beginning, RWDSU put out a statement disavowing the boycott. “The union has not called for nor endorses a boycott at Amazon,” said Chelsea Connor, a spokeswoman for both the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and the BAmazon Union campaign. RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum told Labor Press, “We are not involved with that, but we appreciate that so many people around the country and around the world want to support these brave workers.” Other sources have told UCOMM that RWDSU is concerned that a boycott of the company could hurt their chances of winning the union vote. They have also preemptively said that a national day of action planned for March 20th is not an official RWDSU event. This event appears to have been called for by SupportAmazonWorkers.org.
This move makes sense from the union’s perspective. They don’t want to allow Amazon to weaponize the idea that if a union comes in there will automatically be an adversarial relationship between the union and the company. They also need to protect themselves against any claims from Amazon that the union pushed the boycott. While primary boycotts are legal under the National Labor Relations Act, secondary boycotts are not and a boycott of other Amazon products like Prime streaming or Whole Foods could be considered a secondary boycott.
However, the speed at which the call to boycott Amazon spread shows how average rank and file union members and ethical consumers want to get involved with supporting these workers in Alabama. The fact that grassroots consumers are willing to inconvenience themselves or are willing to plan local rallies at Amazon fulfillment centers shows just how interested they are in helping the organizing effort. This organizing drive has even gained the support of Republican Senator Marco Rubio, putting the former Presidential candidate on the same side as Senator Bernie Sanders and President Joe Biden.
Voting in Bessemer will continue until March 29th.