Amazon workers in Alabama who are in the middle of a massive unionization vote have gotten a thinly veiled shoutout from President Biden.
Without naming Amazon, Biden offered his support for unions in a video posted on Twitter that looked like it was aimed squarely at the Seattle-based e-tailing giant, which has been struggling to fight off the campaign to organize workers at a warehouse in Bessemer, Ala.
“Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama and all across America are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace,” Biden said. “It’s a vitally important choice — one that should be made without intimidation or threats by employers.”
The union drive in Alabama is the biggest in Amazon’s history, and the first such vote since workers in Delaware voted down a union push in 2014. The 6,000 workers in Bessmer began voting on Feb. 8 and are expected to conclude the process by the end of March.
“Let me be really clear: It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union. But let me be even more clear: It’s not up to an employer to decide that either,” Biden said in the video. “There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. The choice to join a union is up to the workers — full stop.”
In January, the online behemoth sought to get approval for an in-person vote rather than by mail-in ballot. The National Relations Labor Board rejected Amazon’s request.
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) has been spearheading the effort to unionize. Three dozen other left-leaning groups including the American Economic Liberties Project, the Working Families Party and the Unite Here union wrote to Biden on Thursday urging that he publicly back the unionization effort.
Noting that he campaigned on a pledge to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen,” the groups told Biden that “this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to make that pledge a reality. We urge you to lend all your support to the Amazon workers in Bessemer. They deserve nothing less.”
In an attempt to sway workers, Amazon set up a website doitwithoutdues.com claiming they’d have to pay $500 to the union for benefits they are already receiving from e-tail giant.