US President Joe Biden speaks ahead of the signing of an ordinance to remedy a global shortage in semiconductor chips on February 24, 2021 in the State Dining Room of the White House in Washington.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
Without specifically naming Amazon, President Joe Biden on Sunday expressed support for a closely watched union vote in one of the Alabama retail giant’s warehouses, calling it “vital.”
“Today and for the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama and across America are voting on whether to unionize in their workplace,” Biden said in a video posted on his Twitter page. “This is critically important – an extremely important decision as America grapples with the deadly pandemic, the economic crisis and the reckoning of the race. What it shows is the profound differences that still exist in our country.”
Earlier this month, nearly 6,000 employees at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, voted by mail to join the retail, wholesale and department store union, marking the company’s first major union effort since 2014. Workers at the Alabama facility notified the NLRB on their plans to hold a vote on whether to be represented by the RWDSU.
Ballot papers were mailed to staff on February 8th and must be received by the National Labor Relations Board regional office by March 29th. The counting begins the following day.
The union effort in Alabama has proven to be a protracted labor dispute between Amazon and the company Hiring the same law firm During a failed union action in Delaware in 2014, Amazon helped negotiate. Amazon has also made its position on the union campaign clear to its employees at the Bessemer facility through mandatory meetings. Set up a website urging workers to “do it for free” and according to recent data Vice Report, distribution of brochures instructing workers to “vote NO” in historic elections.
In addition, Amazon had tried to postpone the union elections and pushed for a personal election, which the NLRB denied.
In the video, Biden said it was “up to the workers, period” to decide whether to join a union. He also discouraged employers from meddling in union elections.
“There should be no intimidation, coercion, threats, anti-union propaganda,” said Biden. “No manager should confront employees with their union preferences.
“You know, every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union … no employer can accept that right away. So let your voice be heard,” he added.
During the campaign, Biden promised to be “the most union-friendly president”. He also made worker empowerment one of his most important principles Work agenda.
In a statement, union president Stuart Applebaum thanked Biden for his support for the union action.
“As President Biden points out, the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is to organize in unions,” Applebaum said in a statement. “And that’s why so many working women and men at the Amazon plant in Bessemer, Alabama, are fighting for a union.”