Biden offers support to union organizing efforts
President Biden offered his support on Sunday to union organizing efforts as Amazon workers at an Alabama warehouse vote on whether to unionize.
In a video posted on Twitter, the president told workers “in Alabama and all across America” that are considering joining a union that they face a “vitally important choice.”
He did not mention Amazon directly, but his video statement was released after almost 6,000 warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., started voting earlier this month on the option to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). If approved, the union would become the first at Amazon’s U.S. operations.
“I made it clear when I was running that my administration’s policy would be to support unions organizing and the right to collectively bargain,” Biden said. “I’m keeping that promise.”
“So let me be really clear: it’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union,” he added. “But let me be even more clear: it’s not up to an employer to decide that either. The choice to join a union is up to the workers — full stop.”
Biden continued by saying that workers should not face intimidation, coercion, threats, anti-union propaganda or questions from supervisors about their decision.
Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.
Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. pic.twitter.com/2lzbyyii1g
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2021
Ballots for the unionization vote were sent to workers at the Bessemer warehouse earlier this month and need to be returned to the National Labor Relations Board’s regional office by March 29, CNBC reported.
The Bessemer facility first opened in March 2020, but its workers soon raised concerns about work quotas, low wages and worries about lack of protection from COVID-19 — issues that were brought up by employees at other Amazon locations.
Employees at the Alabama warehouse began quietly organizing in July before the RWDSU officially filed a petition in November.
Amazon did not immediately return The Hill’s request for comment. But a spokesperson previously told The Hill that the union does not represent “the majority of our employees’ views,” while highlighting the company’s $15.30 starting wage.
RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum praised Biden’s statement, saying a union is “the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families.”
“And that is why so many working women and men are fighting for a union at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama,” Appelbaum said in a statement.