After bowing to teachers unions on school closures, Biden backs Bernie’s union drive in Alabama
On the heels of President Joe Biden buckling to teachers unions and refusing to follow the science in keeping schools shuttered across the nation, he has now apparently caved to behind-the-scenes lobbying from union bosses again.
Biden on Sunday evening released a video in support of the New York City-based Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union’s (RWDSU) push to unionize the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama.
Biden joins the likes of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Georgia Democrat Stacey Abrams and Hollywood activist Danny Glover in publicly backing the Alabama unionization effort.
This comes after Reuters reported last month that union leaders have been directly engaged with the Biden White House regarding the union vote in Bessemer.
“The larger labor movement has indicated to the White House that this is an important campaign, that this is a priority,” RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum said at the time. The RWDSU is an affiliate of the AFL-CIO, a major financier of Biden’s 2020 campaign.
“Thank you, President Biden, for sending a clear message of support for the BAmazon Union workers in Alabama seeking to bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse with the RWDSU,” Appelbaum stated on Sunday following the video release.
Per the latest available data from the Alabama Department of Labor, Bessemer has the third-highest rate of unemployment among the state’s major cities.
On top of the Bessemer fulfillment center, Amazon late last year announced its plans to open two delivery stations in Alabama: one in Bessemer and one in Birmingham. These stations will reportedly create hundreds of full- and part-time associate jobs, all paying at least $15 per hour, in addition to hundreds of driver opportunities for Amazon’s Delivery Service Partners and Amazon Flex drivers.
However, all of this progress could come to a screeching halt if history is any indicator.
RWDSU was the union involved in the 2019 cancellation of Amazon’s plans to open a second headquarters in New York City, reportedly killing 25,000-40,000 planned jobs in the area. Ocasio-Cortez was a vocal ally of the union in those efforts, as well.
On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive health care from day one, 401(k) with 50% match, up to 20 weeks paid parental leave and Amazon’s innovative Career Choice program, which pre-pays 95% of tuition for courses in high-demand fields. Since the program’s launch four years ago, more than 25,000 employees have pursued degrees in game design and visual communications, nursing, IT programming and radiology, just to name a few.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn