Reprinted from The American Prospect by Steven Greenhouse on March 2, 2021.
As lead organizer in the potentially historic effort to unionize 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, Josh Brewer heads a small army of organizers for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Brewer recognizes that it’s a high-stakes campaign—it’s the first time a union has sought to unionize all the workers at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. Bessemer, a suburb of Birmingham, was once a thriving union community, with steel mills, coal mines, and a Pullman railcar factory. Brewer, 33, is an ordained minister who gravitated from the pulpit to union organizing because he saw it as a more effective way to lift struggling Americans. The National Labor Relations Board mailed out the unionization ballots on February 8; they are due on March 29, and only then will the ballots be counted.
Steven Greenhouse: What makes you confident that you will win this unionization drive against Amazon? What is the union doing to win?
Josh Brewer: We’re really capturing a moment in time where there’s momentum for working people, a moment with an administration [the Biden administration] that is coming in saying, “We need to put a focus on union jobs.” Taking that together with the marches and people speaking out for racial justice, and what is already a town with a union history where many family members had good union jobs, that makes us feel confident. …
The Amazon Workers’ Campaign Shows the Need for Labor Law Reform
Reprinted from The Nation by Lynn Rhinehart on February 25, 2021.
“The organizing drive still underway by workers at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, reveals some of the many ways our current labor law gives employers too much power to stand in the way of workers trying to gain a collective voice,” writes Lynn Rhinehart in The Nation.
“Workers at Amazon want a union to bargain better pay, safety protections, and dignity on the job. Instead of respecting its workers’ choice, what has Amazon done?
- “Amazon has forced workers to attend small group meetings where supervisors rail against the union.
- “Amazon has bombarded workers with anti-union communications, including anti-union posters in the restroom. Meanwhile, union organizers must meet with workers off the property, resulting in a huge imbalance in access to workers to talk about the union. Amazon has gone so far as to ask the county to change the timing on traffic lights outside the facility so organizers have less time to talk with workers driving to and from work. …