By Staff@FightBack News!, published February 21, 2021
Bessemer, AL – As workers at Amazon’s Bessemer, Alabama warehouse have begun voting by mail on whether or not to join the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), Amazon is pulling out all of the stops to try to coerce them out of voting for the union. They are trying many tactics straight out of the age-old union busting playbook and have forced workers to attend anti-union meetings, even in violation of Amazon’s own social distancing policies.
Each day Amazon workers receive text messages from the company, often many times a day. Many of these texts have implied that if the union is voted in, then Amazon may have to close the facility, costing the workers their jobs. Union elections in the U.S. private sector are governed by the National Labor Relations Act, which states that an employer may not “Threaten employees with adverse consequences, such as closing the workplace, loss of benefits, or more onerous working conditions, if they support a union, engage in union activity, or select a union to represent them.” While these texts are a clear violation of the law, Amazon continues to send them, making it clear they will stop at nothing to keep their workers from having a voice in the decisions by joining the union.
Taking their illegal union-busting activities a step further, on February 20, Amazon sent workers emails offering a $2000 bribe in the form of a “bonus” to workers who had been there through at least two peak seasons if they agreed to quit their jobs before the union vote, and raising the price of the bribe to $3000 if they had been there through three peak seasons. To attempt to bribe your employees out of supporting a union is also in direct violation of the NLRA.
In a particularly public and brazen union-busting effort Amazon has even used their connections to get local authorities to shorten the times of the stoplights in front of the Amazon location to make it harder for union supporters to hand out union literature to their coworkers.
All of these attempts to stop the union point to the same thing. Amazon apparently knows that if the union vote goes through, their workers will have more decision-making power at their jobs, and Amazon will likely end up having to pay them more and give them better benefits. At the same time that Amazon holds meetings attempting to convince the workers that joining the union will not win them anything, they show that they know this is false by working feverishly and spending huge sums of money to stop the vote from going through.
Union supporters are using the bosses’ own tactics to help their coworkers understand the power they will have by joining the union. They argue that if the boss can afford to offer their workers thousands of dollars each in bribes to quit, then they could afford to simply pay them better to begin with.
The vote is happening over seven weeks through mail-in ballots, and voting will continue through March 30. Votes will be counted soon after that. The only thing that is clear right now is that Amazon is trying any tactic it can, legal or illegal, to stop these workers from joining the union.