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Union effort in Alabama gets backing from Black Lives Matter

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Organizers trying to form the first union at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer are getting support from Black Lives Matter. The advocacy group plans to hold an event today near the central Alabama warehouse. It’s considered the latest high-profile support effort of the union push, and the biggest in Amazon's nearly 30-year history. Union organizers say most of the workers in the warehouse are Black, and the backing from Black Lives Matter could help further legitimize the cause. Workers in the Bessemer warehouse have a little more than two weeks left to vote on whether they want to unionize.

Ironically, the COVID-19 pandemic is also credited with spurring the Amazon pro-union effort in Alabama. New York Attorney General Letitia James sued Amazon back in February for allegedly disregarding the health and safety of its workers during the coronavirus outbreak. Observers note that’s a key issue among Amazon workers at the company’s Bessemer facility just outside of Birmingham. Rank and file at the Alabama E-Commerce facility are voting on whether or not to unionize. If workers say yes, it would be the first unionized Amazon center in the nation. Two hundred and fifty Amazon workers reportedly tested positive for the virus. The company filed a countersuit saying that federal labor laws override those in New York State.

Pat Duggins is news director for Alabama Public Radio.
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