Reprinted from Jacobin by Barry Eidlin on April 2, 2021.
“Voting has wrapped up in the election to determine whether fifty-eight hundred workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama will join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU),” writes Barry Eidlin in Jacobin. “If they win, they would be the first Amazon workers in the United States to unionize. The election is historic, and not only because it would be the first win at one of the biggest and most important companies in the United States. It would also be a rare win for unions in the South, a region of the country where unions have had particular difficulty organizing, and where union membership rates are especially low. The majority-black workforce has linked their union campaign to the #BlackLivesMatter movement and the fight for civil rights in the South.
“Politicians like Bernie Sanders, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Stacey Abrams, and more have voiced support. President Biden stopped short of calling for a yes vote, but issued a video endorsing the right of ‘workers in Alabama’ to join a union, and called on employers not to intervene. Celebrities have weighed in, as have many other unions in the United States and around the world, including the NFL Players’ Association.
“The Amazon union campaign in Alabama is indeed important. But we should ask why, in 2021 in the United States, is it considered such a momentous event for workers to decide whether or not to join a union? …