Senator Bernie Sanders headlines a pro-union Amazon rally in Bessemer

Mar 27, 2021

Amazon workers and labor advocates are making a final push for the union vote at the company's warehouse outside Birmingham, Alabama. Vermont U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont told a Friday rally that a labor victory against the tech and retail giant would resonate across the country. If voted down, it would be another loss for organizers hoping to win a rare labor victory in the Deep South.

A previous rally featured Reverend Dr. William Barber of the Poor People’s Campaign is one of the speakers for the event. He said unions have always had a hard time establishing in the south.

“There has been an outright effort as far back as the turn of the 19th to the 20th century on through the New Deal up until now to fight against labor unions in the south.”

His rally was part of the Poor Peoples’ Campaign’s Moral Monday series of events. Barber said the reason for this has to do with more than workers’ rights.

“Because the potential to bring Black and White and Brown workers together in the south. It would raise wages in the south and it would empower the workers to join together, not only in terms of fighting for union rights but also waging the fight for voting rights.”

Barber said eighty-five percent of the workers at the Bessemer site are Black. The warehouse workers must mail their ballots to the National Labor Relations Board by this coming Monday. Workers supporting the union say they face relentless quotas and poor working conditions. Amazon is fighting the union effort. The company argues the warehouse created jobs with an average pay of $15.30 per hour and benefits including health care, vision, and dental insurance.