Biden seems to be showing support for Amazon workers who voted for the union

WASHINGTON – A few days after warehouse workers on Staten Island defied Amazon and successfully formed a labor union, President Biden on Wednesday backed workers and advocated for their goal.

Speaking at the national conference of trade union workers, Mr. Biden spoke directly with one of the world’s most powerful companies and defended the right of employees to associate. “The choice to join the union belongs only to the workers,” he said during comments at a national conference of the North American construction unions. “By the way, Amazon, we’re coming. Watch. ”

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

“What he has not done is send a message that he or the US government will be directly involved in any of these efforts or take any direct action,” Ms Psaki said.

However, the remarks were most explicit about Amazon from Mr. Biden, who called himself the “most union president” ever and had long hinted that he disapproved of the company’s efforts to dissuade its workers from uniting. Last year, Mr. Biden expressed support for workers trying to unite Amazon’s warehouse in Alabama. But then the president did not name the company.

“To be clear: it is not up to me to decide whether someone should join the union,” he said in a direct address to the camera posted on the White House Twitter page, after a campaign of pressure from the union group driving. “But to be even clearer: it’s not up to the employer to decide.” Workers there barely voted against forming a union. Amazon also said workers have the right to decide to join a union, but the National Labor Relations Committee has filed a number of cases alleging that the company improperly interfered with their right to do so. Amazon denies it.

The success of the union action at a warehouse on Staten Island – Amazon’s only fulfillment center in New York – surprised many. Employees cast 2,654 votes to represent Amazon’s labor union and 2,131 against, according to the National Labor Committee, giving the union a victory of more than 10 percentage points.

Victory comes at a dangerous time for the labor movement. Despite growing public approval from unions, high demand for workers and pockets of successful work activity, the share of American workers in unions fell to 10.3 percent last year, the lowest rate in decades.

Critics – including some workers’ officials – say traditional unions have failed to devote enough resources to organizing campaigns and have often bet on the wrong struggles.

Amazon is expected to aggressively challenge the union’s victory. An unsigned statement on her corporate blog reads: “We are disappointed with the outcome of the Staten Island election because we believe a direct relationship with the company is best for our employees.”

Amazon began hiring during the pandemic, giving employees a growing sense of power while fostering worries about workplace safety. It now has 1.6 million employees worldwide, but is plagued by high turnover. Last year’s New York Times investigation of the Staten Island warehouse, known as JFK8, revealed how much of its problems – including unintentional layoffs and incredible depletion – are symbolic of Amazon’s employment model in the broadest sense.

The National Labor Relations Committee is handling cases in administrative and federal courts in which it says Amazon has violated workers’ rights to the organization. Amazon’s main response to the union’s victory was to believe that the agency had lost its objectivity and that it actively supported the union, instead of being a neutral arbiter.

However, the agency said its actions against Amazon were in line with Congress ‘mandate to enforce workers’ rights.

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

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.