An Amazon warehouse worker talks about the impact of the Bessemer union election
Many articles have been written by journalists and pundits in the aftermath of the RWDSU’s defeat at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer — including one coauthored by Peter Olney and myself. After the vote I asked an Amazon worker about the impact of the NLRB certification election on the organizing effort at the warehouse where he works in the NY metro area. He is affiliated with Amazonians United, a movement of workers organizing for dignity on their jobs.
“I talked with my coworkers a few times about the Bessemer organizing campaign. When the news about the NLRB filing broke in December 2020, I used it as an opening for conversations with my coworkers about unions.
“It was a good door opener and conversation starter. I was surprised by what some of my co-workers said, ‘Oh, Amazon doesn’t already have a union?’ It amazed me that some of my younger co-workers actually thought we already had a union! With others, it opened up the possibility that we could have a union in our workplace.
“I probably mentioned it to dozens of my co-workers, but the RWDSU campaign was not the tipping point for any of us. We were focused on our petition about safety during COVID, hazard pay, and getting management to expand Lyft codes to the night shift because the subway were shut down.
“When the union vote was announced in Bessemer, we were working on a second petition. This one is focused on some unfair firings at our delivery station. So not much focus by my coworkers on the election in Bessemer.
“I think people believe that it’s a lot different down South. I talked with a few co-workers the week before the vote. Folks hoped that it would go through. But no one seemed shaken or deflated by the result. Instead we talked about the walkout over megacycle demands that happened in Chicago. Over all the lack of interest or concern is a good thing, It hasn’t deflated our crew.”
Other articles by Peter Olney and Rand Wilson about union organizing at Amazon:
Socialists Can Seize the Moment at Amazon
Amazon Workers Desperately Need an Insurgent Union Campaign
BAmazon Union: Anticipating the Battle in Bessemer, Alabama