March 8, 2021
Statement by Workers’ Voice Central Committee
1. Workers at the new Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama are in the middle of a high-stakes union struggle with ramifications for the future of the labor movement in the United States. Currently, a union election is taking place at the Bessemer warehouse, where workers will decide whether to join the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU), despite a brutal intimidation campaign by amazon. Workers’ Voice / La Voz de los Trabajadores stands in solidarity with Alabama workers fighting for a union and for justice and dignity on the job. We call on the entire socialist movement and on all labor unions and locals in the United States to mobilize in support of Bessemer workers, to participate in the upcoming solidarity actions on March 20, and to call on the AFL-CIO to throw its resources and power behind this historic fight.
2. Workers in Bessemer are fighting deplorable working conditions. They are organizing against the company’s brutal workplace productivity demands and constant speed ups monitored by digital surveillance as well Amazon’s automated disciplinary procedures, where workers can be penalized (and fired) for failing to show up for mandatory overtime assigned to them at the last minute via text message. “You’re running at a consistent, fast pace,” one worker reported to The Guardian. “You ain’t got time to look around. You get treated like a number. You don’t get treated like a person. They work you like a robot.” These dehumanizing practices exemplify the contradictions of contemporary capitalism, where a company run by one of the richest men in history can treat the very people who produce that wealth like productivity machines.
3. The fight of Bessemer workers is also a fight for racial justice. The majority of the Amazon workers in Alabama are Black — and Bessemer is a majority-Black town. By organizing collectively to fight for a better life, workers are taking the spirit of the Black anti-racist struggle and the 2020 uprising against police violence into the crucial battlefront of the workplace.
4. Needless to say, Amazon does not want its workers to win a union and it is mobilizing all its power to defeat the workers at Bessemer. The company has spent large sums of money to pay union-busting lawyers and advisers, including a Koch-backed consultant who is paid $3,200 per day, to help them carry out a vicious campaign of intimidation, which has included the placing of anti-union posters in bathroom stalls and mandatory “information” meetings where managers demonize unions. This union-busting effort is particularly disgusting given that Amazon saw a 200% increase in profits during the first nine months of 2020 (an exorbitant $6.3 billion) and Jeff Bezos is nearly 80% richer than he was before the pandemic. Meanwhile, at least 20,000 Amazon workers had contracted COVID-19 as of October 2020. Following the winter surge in cases, the number is now almost certainly significantly higher.
5. The Bessemer workers’ fight is a decisive battle for the labor movement, which must build on this campaign and mobilize workers to roll back anti-union legislation. This includes, but must go far beyond, demanding the passage of the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO Act). While the provisions in the PRO Act are necessary, socialists and labor unions must fight for the complete prohibition of management anti-union campaigns.
The struggle of Alabama workers is the struggle of the US working class.
All-out solidarity with Alabama workers!
No to Amazon’s anti-union intimidation!
Victory to the Bessemer unionization campaign!
Statement in Solidarity with Amazon Workers Organizing in Bessemer, AL
March 8, 2021