Sanders presses Biden on federal contracts amid Amazon union push

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Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) is making an appeal to President Biden amid the senator’s support for unionization at Amazon: bar companies who violate federal labor laws from receiving contracts with the federal government.

In a letter to the president, which was first reported by Politico, Sanders referenced a campaign promise Biden made as a then-presidential candidate in which he said he would impose a federal debarment for workplaces that opposed unions illegally and vowed to only give out federal contracts to employers who agreed not to run campaigns that were anti-union.

“In order to implement that plan, I urge you to sign an Executive Order preventing companies that violate federal labor laws from contracting with the federal government,” Sanders wrote.

The Vermont senator used his letter to target Amazon specifically, just days after he and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) participated in a rally with the Amazon Labor Union, whose Staten Island factory workers voted to unionize earlier in April.

“Mr. President: It is abundantly clear that time and time again Amazon has engaged in illegal anti-union activity. Amazon may be a large and profitable corporation, it may be owned by one of the wealthiest people in America, but it cannot be allowed to continue to violate the law and the rights of its employees. The time has come to tell Amazon that if it wants another federal contract, it must obey the law,” Sanders wrote.

Earlier this month, Biden called out Amazon following the Staten Island factory workers’ vote and urged Congress to pass legislation that would provide employees with better protections should an employer retaliate against them and dole out harsher fines if workers’ rights were violated.

But Biden’s comments were not a suggestion that he or the government would be taking “direct action” or be “directly involved” in efforts to unionize, White House officials noted.

A White House official told Politico that the president thinks “there should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, and no anti-union propaganda from employers while workers are making that vitally important choice about a union.”

That official noted Biden “has stated consistently and firmly that every worker in every state must have a free and fair choice to join a union and the right to bargain collectively with their employer.”

The Hill has reached out to the White House and Amazon for comment. 

Tags Amazon Bernie Sanders Bernie Sanders Biden democrats President Biden Union

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