Sanders Brings Amazon Union Battle to D.C., Calling Warehouse Worker to Testify

Labor News

US Senator Bernie Sanders; from his Facebook page

Reprinted from The Washington Post by Jay Greene on March 12, 2021.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) will bring the high-stakes labor battle against Amazon to Washington on Wednesday, when a union-supporting worker will testify before the Senate Budget Committee.

The hearing, which will focus on income inequality, will include testimony from Jennifer Bates, who trains employees at Amazon’s warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama. That’s the facility where 5,805 employees are in the middle of an election to decide whether they will be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.

Sanders also invited Amazon founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos, the world’s wealthiest person, to testify at the hearingbut Mike Casca, a spokesman for the senator, said Amazon declined the offer Friday. (Bezos owns The Washington Post.) …

Washington Post 3/12


Sanders Invites Bezos to Testify at Inequality Hearing

Reprinted from The Hill by Chris Mills Rodrigo on March 12, 2021.

Senator Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced Friday that he has invited Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos to testify at a hearing about inequality scheduled for next week.

The Senate Budget Committee chairman has already secured the testimony of one worker at the e-commerce giant’s Bessemer, Alabama, plant, where a unionization vote is in progress.

Jennifer Bates, who trains employees at the warehouse, will appear alongside multiple economists at the hearing titled “The Income and Wealth Inequality Crisis in America.”

A spokesperson for Amazon told The Hill that Bezos will not attend the hearing.  …

The Hill 3/12


Radical Anti-Racist Unionism has a History in Bessemer, Alabama

Reprinted from Jacobin by Willem Morris on March 13, 2021.

“Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, are holding an important vote right now to become the first group of American workers for the company to unionize their warehouse,” writes Willem Morris in Jacobin. “The fight is a key battle in the long-running and mostly elusive effort of labor to build power in the South. But this isn’t the first such unionization effort in Bessemer.

“In 1949, during the Cold War crackdown on unions with leftist leadership, the International Union of Mine, Mill and Smelter Workers (Mine-Mill), a union with deep ties to the Communist Party and a history of anti-racist organizing, was challenged by a more moderate union, the United Steelworkers of America (USWA), which used racism and red-baiting to defeat Mine-Mill in the election.

“Radical Mine-Mill labor organizers in the past confronted white supremacy in order to organize the working class in Bessemer. Mine-Mill’s decades of organizing in Bessemer helped lay the groundwork for today’s effort at Amazon. …

“Mine-Mill [is] perhaps best known today for its production of the film Salt of the Earthreleased in 1954The film used actual Mine-Mill workers and their families as actors to depict a 1951 strike and the resulting police repression against Mexican workers at a zinc mine in New Mexico. It also emphasized the important role that women played in leading the strike. …

Jacobin 3/13

About Jeffrey Burman 861 Articles
Jeff Burman served on the Guild’s Board of Directors from 1992 to 2019. He is now retired. He can be reached at