President Joe Biden has slammed Amazon for its union-busting tactics in a video posted on Twitter stating the choice to “join a union is up to the workers, full stop”.
Amazon workers at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama have been voting via mail on whether to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (WDSU) since early February.
Workers in Alabama – and all across America – are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace. It’s a vitally important choice – one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.
Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. pic.twitter.com/2lzbyyii1g
— President Biden (@POTUS) March 1, 2021
Until now Amazon has been successful in thwarting all efforts by its US staff to unionise, but this landmark vote could well be the first time in the company’s history any of its workers have gained official representation in the country.
Amazon has already drawn condemnation from a group of 70 investors, which collectively hold around $20 billion in shares, for its unabashed efforts to quash the union vote.
Now President Biden has stepped in directly addressing “workers in Alabama”, but failing to refer to Amazon by name.
In his two-minute video, Biden said: “Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union, but especially Black and Brown workers.
“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their union preferences.”
The online giant launched an anti-union website last month called doitwithoutdues.com, which criticises the dues workers must pay to join a union.
The site also tells workers that unionisation would mean it “won’t be easy to be as helpful and social with each other”.
Managers at Amazon are also understood to be trained to spot and report organised activity, while the online giant has also tried to delay the vote and force members to vote in person in a booth, but both requests were denied by the National Labour Relations Board (NLRB) last month.
The vote will be being watched closely by Amazon’s 800,000 US workers as it could mark a seismic shift in one of the country’s largest employer’s relationship with its employees.
Unionisation was one of the core tenants of Biden’s campaign and he has vowed to increased union membership after years of steady declines in the US.