Biden appears to be showing support for Amazon workers who voted for unionization

WASHINGTON – Days after warehouse workers on Staten Island opposed Amazon and successfully formed a union, President Biden on Wednesday threw his support behind the workers and defended their cause.

Speaking at a national trade union conference, Mr Biden spoke directly with one of the world’s most powerful companies and defended the right of workers to unite. “The choice to join a union belongs only to the workers,” he said during a speech at the National Conference of Building Unions in North America. “By the way, Amazon, we’re coming. I’m watching. “

Jen Psaki, a White House spokeswoman, said the president was simply expressing his long-standing support for collective bargaining and unions.

“What he was not doing was sending a message that he or the US government would be directly involved in each of these efforts or take any direct action,” Ms. Psaki said.

Still, the remarks were most obvious to Amazon from Mr. Biden, who called himself “the most pro-union president” and had long hinted that he disapproved of the company’s efforts to dissuade its workers from unionizing. Last year, Mr Biden expressed support for workers trying to consolidate Amazon’s Alabama warehouse. But at the time, the president did not call the company by name.

“Let me be really clear: it’s not up to me to decide whether someone should join the union,” he said at the time, addressing the camera directly on the White House’s Twitter page after a campaign of pressure from unions. groups pushed him to weigh in on the disc. “But let me be even clearer: it doesn’t depend on the employer either.” The workers there voted against the creation of a union. Amazon also said workers have the right to decide to unite, but the National Labor Council has filed a number of lawsuits, saying the company had wrongfully interfered with their right to do so. Amazon denies this.

The success of the union initiative in the Staten Island warehouse – Amazon’s only implementation center in New York – surprised many. Employees cast 2,654 votes to represent Amazon and 2,131 against, according to the National Labor Council, giving the union a victory of more than 10 percentage points.

Victory comes at a dangerous time for the labor movement. Despite growing public approval for unions, high demand for workers and pockets of successful employment, the share of American workers in unions fell to 10.3 percent last year, the lowest percentage in decades.

Critics – including some workers – say traditional unions have failed to devote sufficient resources to organizing campaigns and have often relied on wrong battles.

Amazon is expected to aggressively challenge the union’s victory. An unsigned statement from his corporate blog said: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the Staten Island election because we believe that a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees.”

During the pandemic, Amazon began hiring, which gave employees a growing sense of power while fueling concerns about workplace safety. It now has 1.6 million employees worldwide, but is affected by high turnover. A New York Times investigation into last year’s Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, revealed how many of its problems – including unintentional layoffs and incredible depletion – are emblematic of Amazon’s employment model more broadly.

The National Labor Council is prosecuting administrative and federal courts, alleging that Amazon has violated workers’ organizational rights. Amazon’s main response to the union’s victory was that it believes the agency has lost its objectivity and is actively supporting the union instead of being a neutral arbiter.

But the agency said its actions against Amazon were in line with Congress’ mandate to enforce labor rights.

Katie Rodgers reported by Washington and Karen way from Seattle. Noam Scheiber contributed to a report from Chicago.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.