USA: A warehouse in Alabama could see the first union on Amazon born

In Bessemer, votes are counted in the referendum on the creation of the union. Amazon opened the purse strings to prevent the victory of the right to unionize in a campaign that is seen as an important milestone in the struggle of American workers.

April 3, 2021 – 10: 11h

Poster in favor of the creation of the union on Amazon. Photo by @ GrimKim / Twitter.

Bessemer, Alabama. BHM1 warehouse. A remote setting in a small town in the southern United States where much attention has been turned in recent months. There, the vote is taken in a referendum on the creation of a union. But it is not just any union. To be created will be the first Amazon workers’ union, risking to change the paradigm of industrial relations in the country.

The votes are already in the ballot box but the counting of the federal agency National Labor Relations Board promises to drag on over the next week. This is if the various possibilities of appeal are not used. In the event of victory in the creation of the union, the company is expected to use everything it can to delay the process. How you tried to do this to prevent the possibility of voting by correspondence.

Legally, the union can only be created with a majority of the votes of the approximately 5,800 workers. And Amazon spared no effort to defeat this possibility, throwing money against unionization. He created posters and a website, sent letters, paid for ads and hired consultants who earned ten thousand dollars a day. It also forced workers to attend lectures in which no union was defended. The arsenal of arguments included the idea that unions are a business that keeps workers’ money and that union membership means losing the right to speak for itself.

On the other side, there is the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Although he is still expecting the result, his president is already claiming victory in the campaign: “we have opened the door to more organization across the country and exposed how far the bosses go to prevent their workers from having a union voice”. Many Amazon workers in other parts of the country, for example, first contacted the union. In addition, Stuart Appelbaum believes, the campaign also demonstrated the need for a reform of the labor law in the country.

Supporting the union were, on the spot, for several other labor activists and social movements, Democratic congressmen such as Andy Levin of Michigan, Jamaal Bowman of New York, Cori Bush of Missouri, Terri Sewell also of Alabama and Nikema Williams of Georgia. After that, it was the turn of ex-presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, who in his speech said: “Amazon knows that if you are successful here, it will spread throughout this country. They know that it’s not just the workers here who were fed up with these shocking working conditions ”.

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