WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden on Sunday supported the right of Amazon workers to form unions, but declined to explicitly encourage them to form a union.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama began voting in February on whether to form the first US federation in the e-commerce giant that could pave the way for more unions in the United States into one of the world’s most powerful companies.
“Workers in Alabama and all over America are voting to organize a union at their workplace,” Biden said in a video posted on Twitter. “This is critical – a very important choice.”
“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, nor anti-union propaganda,” he said. “Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union.”
Amazon does not formally oppose unions, but it has campaigned against the efforts of warehouse employees in Bismar to create unions.
In addition to the leaflets posted in Hammamet, it has held meetings to bring a case against the unions and has even launched a website that argues the union is unnecessary.
There have been a flurry of protests across the United States over safety and working conditions at Amazon, as the pandemic has added pressure on its distribution network even as profits rise.
The company – run by the world’s richest person, Jeff Bezos – has confirmed that it has invested billions in worker safety even as it increases its employees.
It is unclear how many Bessemer employees support the union, and the count is expected to start on March 30th.
If the majority votes in their favor, they will be automatically represented by the RWDSU but will only become full members after agreeing to a new corporate contract, to be negotiated between the union and Amazon.
“As President Biden has made clear, the best way for workers to protect themselves and their families is to organize into unions,” Stuart Appelbaum, president of RWDSU, said in a statement.
Biden developed a pre-organized labor image and played on his labor background while campaigning for office, although he had previously avoided addressing Bessemer’s efforts to create a union.