Stacey Abrams joins AOC, Bernie Sanders in backing Amazon unionization push in Alabama
Georgia’s Stacey Abrams over the weekend became the latest national leftwing firebrand to call on Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, to unionize.
A vote is ongoing by employees at the Amazon fulfillment center in metropolitan Birmingham to determine whether they will join the New York City-based Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), an affiliate of the AFL-CIO.
Alabamians may remember Abrams as the Peach State’s losing Democratic gubernatorial nominee in 2018, although she has yet to concede that race.
More recently, Abrams has been credited with playing a large part in Georgia’s two U.S. Senate seats flipping to blue last month; this month, a voting organization she founded has been officially placed under criminal investigation.
On Saturday, she released a video on social media urging Bessemer Amazon workers to “vote yes” on unionizing.
Abrams joins the likes of U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) in publicly lobbying for the Alabama unionization vote to pass.
The Georgia Democrat’s comments came ahead of Hollywood activist Danny Glover’s scheduled Monday appearance in Bessemer to support the effort.
Reuters also reported earlier this month that union leaders have been directly engaged with the President Joe Biden White House regarding the Amazon union vote in Bessemer.
The union election will run through March 29. Since the fall, RWDSU 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 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.
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. Ocasio-Cortez was a vocal ally of the union in those efforts, as well.
Sean Ross is the editor of Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on Twitter @sean_yhn