AMAZON UNION VOTE IN ALABAMA TO RAZE BEZOS CLAIM OF ‘FAIRNESS’
Organizers are pushing some 6,000 Amazon workers in an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) on the promise it will lead to better working conditions, better pay and more respect.
Amazon is pushing back, arguing that it already offers more than twice the minimum wage in Alabama and workers get such benefits as health care, vision and dental insurance without paying union dues and without harming the obsession of Jeff Bezos to accumulate billions of dollars to fill his deep pockets, Joseph Pisani and Bill Barrow reported for the Associated Press (AP).
The union push could spread to other parts of Amazon and threaten the company’s profits, which soared 84% last year to $21 billion. At a time when many companies were cutting jobs, Amazon was one of the few still hiring, bringing on board 500,000 people last year alone to keep up with a surge of online orders.
Walmart, the nation’s largest retailer and biggest private employer, has successfully fought off organizing efforts over the years. In 2000, it got rid of butchers in 180 of its stores after they voted to form a union.
Walmart said it cut the jobs because people preferred pre-packaged meat.
Five years later, it closed a store in Canada where some 200 workers were close to winning a union contract.
At the time, Walmart said demands from union negotiators made it impossible for the store to sustain itself.
The union drive has drawn significant attention from elected officials in Washington. US President Joe Biden at the end of February defended workers’ rights to form unions free from intimidation and pointed to voting in Alabama while not specifically mentioning Amazon.
A congressional delegation visited Bessemer earlier in March and Senator Bernie Sanders, a Vermont Democrat, descended on the area Friday to hold a rally with workers and support the organizing push, Mike Spector and Jeffrey Dastin reported for Reuters on March 31, 2021.
The only other time Amazon came up against a union vote was in 2014 when the majority of the 30 workers at a Delaware warehouse turned it down.