by Alex Gallo-Brown
Last week, votes from the largest union election in recent American history — both in terms of the number of eligible workers and the media hype surrounding the campaign — were counted, and the results weren’t pretty if you’re a fan of workplace democracy, economic justice, or collective action. Only about 55% of the 5,800 eligible workers at the Amazon distribution center in Bessemer, Alabama, cast votes in an election that dragged on over the course of seven weeks. Of the 3,215 workers who did vote, only 738 chose to certify the union; 1,798 elected not to. Hundreds of additional ballots weren’t even counted, since they belonged to workers whose eligibility was contested and whose votes would not have changed the outcome, anyway.
It was a devastating outcome for organized labor, according to the national press, after weeks and months of optimism that the pro-union workers might succeed. For many who were on the outside, stories of insufficient bathroom breaks, erratic scheduling, low wages (relative to other warehouses in the area), and general job insecurity made the case for the union a slam dunk. That about 85% of the workers at Bessemer are Black and a majority women in an area of the country with a long history of civil rights struggle only added to the excitement. The workers would win in Bessemer and create a spark throughout the country, galvanizing low-wage workers everywhere to rise up and demand liberation from the conditions that have oppressed them. After decades of decline, labor unions in the U.S. would finally be reborn.
Continue reading OPINION: Loss in Bessemer Was the Beginning, Not the End, of Organizing Inside Amazon
by Guy Oron
On Friday, April 9, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) announced that the vote to form a union at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama had failed. The historic campaign, which would have made the warehouse the first unionized Amazon workplace in the United States, lost by 738 votes in favor to 1,798 against, with an additional 505 ballots being challenged.
The result comes after several months of intense campaigning by both sides. Joining the pro-union side was a broad coalition of Democratic, labor, and progressive voices from across the country, including sitting president Joe Biden. However, the unionization drive was met with intense backlash from Amazon. The company was accused of employing a variety of union-busting tactics, including holding anti-union meetings during working hours, paying workers to quit so that they aren’t able to vote, and pressuring USPS to install a mailbox at the warehouse where voting could be monitored by Amazon officials.
Continue reading Local Workers and Labor Leaders React to Alabama Vote to Reject Amazon Union
by Guy Oron
Over 150 people gathered this Saturday, Feb. 20, to protest in solidarity with Amazon warehouse workers and against the crisis of housing affordability in King County. The protestors gathered outside the Renton offices of the Washington Multi-Family Housing Association (WMFHA), a landlord lobby group, before marching to the Amazon Flex warehouse, also known as DSE5.
The demonstration was organized by a coalition of local activist and labor groups, including the Seattle Democratic Socialists of America (SDSA) and MLK Labor (also known as the King County Labor Council). Organizers coordinated the action in coordination with a national day of solidarity in support of workers at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, who are trying to unionize. Workers at the Bessemer warehouse are currently voting on whether to form a union, and if they prove successful, the facility would become the first unionized Amazon warehouse in the United States.
Continue reading Protestors Rally in Renton in Support of Alabama Amazon Workers