Scores of Amazon workers in Baltimore, New Orleans, Portland, Denver and Southern California are considering unionizing, encouraged by their Alabama co-workers. high profile union campaign, Bloomberg reported on Friday.
Amazon workers have been struggling to organize for years, citing exhausting workloads, unsafe conditions amid the global covid-19 pandemic, dystopian workplace surveillanceand the Amazon story of blatant retaliation against those who denounce this unfair treatment. Now almost 6,000 employees At an Amazon distribution center in the mostly black city of Bessemer, Alabama, they will vote this month on whether to join the Retailers, Wholesalers and Department Stores Union.
In an interview with Bloomberg, the RWDSU said that 1,000 Amazon workers across the country have already reached out to explore their options for potential unions at their own facilities.
“People understand that this is something much bigger than Alabama and even bigger than Amazon,” RWDSU’s Stuart Appelbaum told the outlet. “It really is about the future of work and how workers will be treated.”
Several Amazon workers Bloomberg spoke with began discussing organizing with their co-workers after seeing the success of the Alabama campaign. A warehouse employee in Denver, Colorado, said he created an online chat room for his coworkers to talk about the organization. Another warehouse worker in New Orleans, Louisiana, said he made the five-hour drive to Bessemer last month to participate in a pro-union rally. He added that the hard work of all his Alabama coworkers could become a flash point for reform if other Amazon warehouse personnel follow suit.
“If the most powerful company in the world can be unionized in an anti-union state like Alabama, it gives hope to people in Louisiana, Mississippi, West Virginia who are trying to do the same,” he told the outlet. “We just have to support the fight wherever it is because the fight will come to us.”
However, many workers fear retaliation due to the rigorous efforts to crack down on unions Through the years. The company conducted an extensive anti-union campaign in Alabama, running advertisements in Twitch, owned by Amazon, Twitter and other social media platforms, send text messages to workers with messages in favor of the management and working recruitment announcements for anti-union experts. President Joe Biden He even intervened in Amazon’s meddling ahead of Alabama’s vote, warning the e-commerce giant that its efforts to crack down on unions must involve “no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda.”
A Pennsylvania warehouse worker told Bloomberg that, with all of this in mind plus Amazon’s already strenuous workload, it has been difficult to get coworkers excited enough to even start union talks.
“People are just trying to work and go home,” he said in an interview with the outlet. “Amazon makes you feel very tired, exhausted both physically and mentally, but the benefits are good.”
Alabama’s elections are conducted by mail-in ballots to be counted on March 30, after which Amazon could see a deluge of union campaigns at its other warehouses and beyond. A recent national survey shared with Gizmodo surveyed hundreds of Amazon couriers based in the US and Canada and found that most of them supported unionization.
In his interview with Bloomberg, Appelbaum said that even if Amazon workers in Alabama ultimately choose not to unionize, “this campaign will result in an explosion in the organization across the country.”