Amazon workers’ union drive in Alabama gains support

By Susan Lamont
February 15, 2021

ATLANTA — “The main thing is for people to vote for the union, whether it’s held in person or by mail,” Sharon Franklin, a worker at Amazon’s fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, told the Militant in a phone interview Jan. 30.

Some 2,000 workers at the warehouse signed union cards over the fall and won the right to vote for union representation in an election beginning Feb. 8 and running through March 29. Workers are trying to bring in the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which organizes warehouses, department stores and some poultry plants in the South.

Some 5,800 workers are eligible to vote in the election. As part of their anti-union campaign, Amazon filed an appeal with the National Labor Relations Board asking for the election to be postponed and held in person on their property. The NLRB had decided the vote would be done by mail, citing concerns about high COVID-19 rates in Alabama.

Amazon also launched a website #DoItWithoutDues aimed at pressuring workers to vote against the union, saying union dues will take money away from their families. It urges them to take back their signed union cards. “They’re showing us videos every week talking against the union,” Franklin said. “Some co-workers say they will vote ‘no,’ but more say they are for the union.”

In a show of solidarity Jan. 23, the National Football League Players Association came out with a statement of support for Amazon workers having a union, before one of the league championship playoff games. There’s now a video on the union’s website that features statements by NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and several players. The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers Local 136 will hold a rally to support the organizing drive, Feb. 6 from 4:45 to 6 p.m. The union tent will be located at Circle K, 998 Academy Dr., Bessemer, exit 108.