Hollywood descends on Alabama to support Amazon unionization push
San Francisco resident and famed Hollywood actor Danny Glover will be in Alabama on Monday to support the unionization drive at Amazon’s Bessemer facility.
Glover will be the guest of the New York City-based Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which would be the entity workers join if the ongoing unionization vote passes.
In addition to his acting career, Glover is well known across the nation as an activist who supports left-wing causes. His mobilization to encourage Amazon workers in Alabama to vote “yes” on unionizing should specifically come as no surprise; Glover is an ardent supporter of Democratic socialist Senator Bernie (I-VT), who has been backing the effort.
Observers may have heard of RWDSU before. In fact, this 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. U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) was a vocal ally of the union in those efforts.
Other examples of Glover’s recent political activity include professing his admiration for Venezuela’s late socialist leader Hugo Chavez, as well as current Venezuelan authoritarian and socialist Nicolas Maduro.
Last year, Glover called police officers “the last line line of defense for white supremacy.”
“But the violence that we see – whether it’s the toxic places where they (Black people) live; the inadequacy of health care for them; whether it’s the lack of affordable housing; the absence of jobs at living wages; all those things – that’s basically going unseen,” he said. “We see the actual violence because the police is what it is. It’s the last line line of defense for white supremacy. That’s what the police represents. They don’t protect African Americans. You can make an argument that the institutional violence has its roots in so many different ways. The violence that we see now that is acted out on the physical body of George Floyd has been the kind of violence that is engrained within the American idea of its culture, in its own subtlety, since the first Africans were brought here. So it’s 400 years of violence. It’s not just now!”
In addition to the likes of Sanders and Glover, Reuters reported earlier this month that union leaders have been directly engaged with the Biden White House regarding the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer.
“RWDSU President Stuart Appelbaum told Reuters the conversation with a top advisor to President Joe Biden took place after the inauguration and focused on their efforts to organize the facility in Alabama,” the outlet wrote. “He also said another senior advisor to Biden has been tracking the Alabama effort.”
“The larger labor movement has indicated to the White House that this is an important campaign, that this is a priority,” Appelbaum reportedly said.
The Bessemer union election will run through March 29. Since the fall, RWDSU — which is affiliated with the AFL-CIO — has been running the “BAmazon Union organizing campaign.”
The campaign’s website paints Amazon as an evil bogeyman, even claiming, “Amazon presents a threat to the very fabric of society and the social contract we work to uphold for all working people.”
Amazon has established a website to counter the RWDSU narrative, encouraging its employees to “#DoItWithoutDues.”
“[W]hy pay almost $500 in dues?” the Amazon site asks, before adding, “We’ve got you covered with high wages, health care, vision, and dental benefits, as well as a safety committee and an appeals process. There’s so much MORE you can do for your career and your family without paying dues.”
On top of Amazon’s $15 minimum wage, the company offers industry-leading benefits to full-time employees, which include comprehensive healthcare 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