Bessemer, Alabama March 29, 2021: Steve and Syrena, two stalwart organizers from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, wave posters and encouraging signs for workers clocking out of the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, battle ground for unionization of the retail giant. They stand amidst industrial buildings and a busy highway/interstate intersection to garner support at the beginning and ending of shifts
The RDWSU represents 5800 warehouse workers in Alabama from among the 800,000 employed by Amazon across the US, and need their support for an ongoing critical vote on unionization, overseen by National Labour Relations Board.
It is vital, especially in the historical backdrop of a steady decline in non-farm unionization since 1964. The timing is ideal, since Joe Biden, the current President is sympathetic towards the cause. If its a success, this landmark will open the flood-gates for unionization in the industry.
Workers at Amazon have often complained about poor working conditions, the unrelenting pace, almost no essential breaks and poor health coverage.
The battle lines are drawn as both sides resort to increasingly intense strategies to gain advantage. Joshua Brewer, the union’s president has alleged Amazon may even have sped up the red-light sign to undermine the unionists efforts by reducing time they can spend on the convincing the workers at the stop sign. According to employees, they are also propagating for their cause via subversive and some not so subtle cues using organizational communication channels.
The contest will likely go to the wire, as some employees have committed to unionization but most are unsure. According to Amazon spokespeople, Amazon created over 5,000 jobs; has relatively high pay levels, gives health, vision and dental insurance and that employees themselves would recommend Amazon as a good place to work.
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