Biden appears to show support for Amazon workers who voted to unionize

WASHINGTON — Days after Staten Island warehouse workers challenged Amazon and successfully formed a union, President Biden Wednesday ga...


WASHINGTON — Days after Staten Island warehouse workers challenged Amazon and successfully formed a union, President Biden Wednesday gave his support to the workers and defended their cause.

In an address to a national conference of unionized workers, Mr. Biden spoke directly to one of the most powerful corporations in the world and defended the right of employees to unionize. “The choice to join a union rests with the workers alone,” he said during an address to the National Conference of North American Building Trades Unions. “By the way, Amazon, here we come. Look.”

Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said the president was simply expressing his longstanding support for collective bargaining and unions.

“What he wasn’t doing was sending the message that he or the US government would be directly involved in any of these efforts or take direct action,” Ms Psaki said.

Yet the most explicit remarks about Amazon have come from Mr. Biden, who has called himself the “most pro-union president” ever and has long hinted that he disapproves of Amazon’s efforts. company to dissuade its workers from joining a union. Last year, Mr. Biden expressed his Support for workers trying to unionize at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama. But at that time, the president did not call the company by name.

“Let me be very clear: it’s not up to me to decide if anyone should join a union,” he said at the time in a direct-to-camera address posted on the Twitter page. of the White House, after a pressure campaign by pro-union groups pushed him to weigh in on the campaign. “But let me be even clearer: it’s not for the employer to decide either.” The workers there narrowly voted against form a union. Amazon also said workers have the right to choose to unionize, but the National Labor Relations Board has filed a number of cases indicating the company has improperly interfered with their right to do so. Amazon denies this.

The success of the organizing campaign at the Staten Island warehouse – Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York – surprised many. Employees cast 2,654 votes to be represented by the Amazon Labor Union and 2,131 against, according to the National Labor Relations Board, giving the union a victory of more than 10 percentage points.

The victory comes at a perilous time for the labor movement. Despite growing public approval for the unions, a strong demand for workers and pockets of succeeded work activitythe share of American workers in unions fell last year to 10.3%, the lowest rate in decades.

Reviews – including some labor officials — argue that traditional unions have not devoted enough resources to organizing campaigns and have often relied on the wrong fights.

Amazon is expected to aggressively contest the union’s victory. An unsigned statement on its corporate blog said, “We are disappointed with the Staten Island election result because we believe having a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees. “

Amazon has been on a hiring spree during the pandemic, giving employees a growing sense of empowerment while fueling workplace safety concerns. It now has 1.6 million employees worldwide, but has been plagued by high turnover. A New York Times investigation Last year, the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, revealed how many of its problems – including inadvertent layoffs and skyrocketing attrition – were emblematic of Amazon’s employment model more broadly. .

The National Labor Relations Board has pursued cases in administrative and federal courts in which it says Amazon violated workers’ rights to organize. Amazon’s main response to the union’s victory was that it believes the agency has lost its objectivity and is actively supporting the union, rather than being a neutral arbiter.

But the agency said its actions against Amazon were consistent with its congressional mandate to uphold workers’ rights.

Katie Rogers reported from Washington, and Karen Weise from Seattle. Noam Scheiber contributed reporting from Chicago.

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Newsrust - US Top News: Biden appears to show support for Amazon workers who voted to unionize
Biden appears to show support for Amazon workers who voted to unionize
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