Union activists and community organizations mobilized nationally in late February in solidarity with the 5,800 Amazon warehouse workers fighting to unionize in Bessemer, Ala. Their campaign fighting for fair wages and benefits, against intrusive surveillance and unsafe working conditions during COVID, continues rising. The workers in Bessemer have until March 29 to vote for Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) representation.
“My father tested positive while working at an Amazon warehouse in Atlanta from lack of PPE and neglected sanitation across the facility. It ended up infecting our entire family, taking them out of work for days,” said Rebecka Jackson of the Socialist Unity Party.
Jackson spoke at a Feb. 19 rally outside the Los Angeles office of Amazon’s union-busting law firm, Morgan, Lewis & Bockius.
If the union vote is won, Amazon, Jeff Bezos and Morgan Lewis will see a historic loss that could have a ripple effect throughout the corporation to demand fundamental workers’ rights and benefits for its employees.
Morgan Lewis, a notorious global law firm, has been attacking the union movement for decades. It has backed Amazon on federal tax disputes, hazardous COVID conditions, and discrimination against pro-Black Lives Matters employees.
Though the Republican-backed law firm has built its foundation on oppressing the working class and supporting corporate interest, today all eyes are on the 85%-Black workforce in Bessemer as a beacon of justice.
People gathered at the Los Angeles protest chanted: “Morgan Lewis you can’t hide — you and Trump worked side by side. And Amazon, you’re their boss — it’s Black workers you choose to toss.”
Social-justice groups that rallied at the Morgan Lewis office were greeted by a wall of barricades and police watching over the entrance under the ominous concrete tower in the heart of LA’s downtown financial district.
Representatives from the Harriet Tubman Center for Social Justice, Union Del Barrio, the U.S. Hands Off Cuba Committee and the United Electrical Workers union joined forces in providing fuel for the Bessemer workers. They attempted to deliver a “people’s cease and desist” letter to the law firm but were turned away by security.
Their action clearly caught Morgan Lewis’s attention from the increased security precautions and scare tactics.
“Our union is in solidarity with the Amazon workers who are making history in their organizing drive, which is an inspiration to other workers to stand up against unsafe working conditions and low wages and exploitation in general,” declared Fernando Ramirez, a UE representative.
More than 40 actions were held across the U.S. on the weekend of Feb. 19-21, including another protest at a Morgan Lewis office in Philadelphia. Supporters in East New York, Brooklyn, rallied at a local Amazon facility, while a car caravan and picket line moved through the city of Baltimore.
Even through barricades, traffic-light tampering and a close call on halting mail-in ballots, the working class is sending a clear message that we hear the Bessemer workers and are standing side by side.
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