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Michigan solidarity with Amazon union in Alabama

By staff |
February 20, 2021
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Michigan workers stand with Amazon union drive.
Michigan workers stand with Amazon union drive. (Fight Back! News/Staff)

Grand Rapids, MI - Outside the stagehands union IATSE Local 26 headquarters in Grand Rapids, union members and youth activists attached big signs to their cars saying “Amazon needs a union!” and “Solidarity with Amazon!” They gathered in the freezing cold on February 19 for a press conference and car caravan to three Amazon centers, including a giant new one promising to employ 1000 workers.

Josh Roskamp, IATSE26 business agent, said, “Working conditions at Amazon are harsh. They refuse to universally adopt measures that protect workers from COVID 19, and the work and lifting can be back-breaking. That is why workers are forming a union. They want safety and respect on the job.”

“We are here in solidarity with the union drive in Alabama because win or lose, the lesson for every worker is clear. Organize, organize, organize. We need fighting unions in every industry to get respect and contracts with good benefits,” said labor activist Tom Burke.

Burke continued, “Boss Bezos wants to own the whole market, make it a monopoly. Bezos plans to do away with UPS and the Post Office along with the unions there. We need to organize every Amazon warehouse at the same time, all across the country. If one warehouse wins, Amazon can just close it. We need the Teamster and AFL-CIO leaders to get out from behind their desks and lead the fight.”

Approximately 6000 workers at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama will vote by March 29 to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale Department Store Workers Union. With a mostly Black work force, the union drive is history-changing, as they go up against one of the biggest and most powerful transnational corporations in the world, and its super-rich union-busting owner, Jeff Bezos. Bezos is the second richest person in the world, worth $194 billion.

These workers are standing up to the racist, anti-union laws that suppress labor across the South. Their struggle is inspiring workers and supporters around the country with 50 cities holding rallies or events for a national day of action.

As the car caravan snaked around the circle entrance of one Amazon facility in West Michigan, seven yellow vested managers ran out, waving their arms and asking drivers to leave. Amazon is clearly shaken up.