NEW YORK – Organizers trying to form the first union at an Amazon warehouse are getting support from another big name: Black Lives Matter.
The group plans to hold an event Saturday near the warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, making it the latest high-profile supporter of the union push, which is the biggest in Amazon's nearly 30-year history.
Most of the workers in the warehouse are Black, according to union organizers, and the backing from Black Lives Matter could help further legitimize the cause. Besides higher pay, organizers are also asking for more break time and for Amazon to treat workers with respect.
“Black workers have historically been the backbone of this country, its institutions, and innovations,” said Patrisse Cullors, the executive director of Black Lives Matter Global Network Foundation, in a statement. “Therefore, it is fully within our rights and dignity that we be treated and compensated fairly. Just as we have the right to live, we also have the right to work.”
Nearly 6,000 workers in the Bessemer warehouse have a little more than two weeks left to vote on whether they want to unionize. A majority of voters need to vote “yes” to form a union. Votes will be counted starting March 30.
Other high-profile supporters include Sen. Bernie Sanders, the independent from Vermont, and Stacey Abrams, the one-time Democratic candidate for Georgia governor who has become a leading voice on voting rights. On Friday, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Florida Republican, became the latest politician to back organizers.
Earlier this month, President Joe Biden released a two-minute video saying workers in Alabama and around the country had the right to unionize without intimidation from their companies, but he didn't mention Amazon directly. Still, the video may be enough to push other workers to want to unionize.
“When you have a president saying that unions will help you, people can hear that," said Lynne Vincent, a professor at Syracuse University's Whitman School of Management.