‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: The Working People Weekly List

‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: The Working People Weekly List

Working People Weekly List

Every week, we bring you a roundup of the top news and commentary about issues and events important to working families. Here’s the latest edition of the Working People Weekly List.

‘Everyone in the Community Is Cheering Us On’: “As lead organizer in the potentially historic effort to unionize 5,800 Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, Josh Brewer heads a small army of organizers for the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. Brewer recognizes that it’s a high-stakes campaign—it’s the first time a union has sought to unionize all the workers at an Amazon warehouse in the United States. Bessemer, a suburb of Birmingham, was once a thriving union community, with steel mills, coal mines, and a Pullman railcar factory. Brewer, 33, is an ordained minister who gravitated from the pulpit to union organizing because he saw it as a more effective way to lift struggling Americans. The National Labor Relations Board mailed out the unionization ballots on February 8; they are due on March 29, and only then will the ballots be counted. This interview has been edited for clarity and brevity.”

Right-to-Work Fails Muster: “Al Ekblad, executive secretary of the Montana AFL-CIO, said that in his three decades in and around the labor movement, it was the first time a major piece of right-to-work legislation had hit the House floor. ‘It was a defining moment for the people that came to participate as citizen lobbyists,’ Ekblad said. ‘It’s going up for a vote, so there’s certainly a sense of apprehension until the vote takes place. Nobody’s foolish enough in this world to anticipate that the victory is guaranteed.’”

Nurses Condemn Gov. Abbott’s COVID-19 Decision Lifting Safety Measures Now as ‘A Death Sentence’: “National Nurses United today condemned the decision of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott to remove public safety measures needed to reduce infections, hospitalizations, and deaths amidst a still-virulent pandemic, a decision nurses warn will cost the lives of Texas residents. ‘We are appalled that Gov. Abbott could take such an ill-advised step at a time when people are still dying, and the virus continues to spread throughout Texas, including in communities where our members live and work,’ said NNU President Jean Ross, RN. ‘For the highest public official in the state to tell people to ignore all precautions will only result in avoidable increased pain, suffering, and deaths. It is a shockingly irresponsible decision.’ NNU concurs with the statement by Texas AFL-CIO President Rick Levy, said Ross, that Gov. Abbott’s decision to lift a statewide mask mandate ‘would put lives of working people in jeopardy and directly lead to more deaths from #COVID19.’” 

Amazon Workers Bombarded with ‘Anti-Union Propaganda’ Amid Historic Drive: Union President: “Despite the national spotlight, workers at the warehouse continue to endure grueling and unsafe working conditions as well as aggressive anti-union propaganda, said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which has organized the union drive. ‘It’s horrible for workers there,’ he says. ‘Workers are being bombarded with anti-union messages.’ ‘If you’re sitting on a toilet in an Amazon bathroom, they have placed at eye level anti-union propaganda,’ he adds.”

Amazon Workers’ Union Drive Reaches Far Beyond Alabama: “Players from the National Football League were among the first to voice their support. Then came Stacey Abrams, the Democratic star who helped turn Georgia blue in the 2020 election. The actor Danny Glover traveled to Bessemer, Ala., for a news conference last week, where he invoked the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s pro-union leanings in urging workers at Amazon’s warehouse there to organize. Tina Fey has weighed in, and so has Senator Bernie Sanders. Then on Sunday, President Biden issued a resounding declaration of solidarity with the workers now voting on whether to form a union at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse, without mentioning the company by name. Posted to his official Twitter account, his video was one of the most forceful statements in support of unionizing by an American president in recent memory. ‘Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union,’ Biden said.”

After Stimulus, Biden to Tackle Another Politically Tricky Issue: Infrastructure: “Richard L. Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO, who joined other labor leaders in a meeting in February to discuss infrastructure withBiden, said the president was uniquely positioned to understand the importance of the issue from the perspective of working Americans. ‘He was born a blue-collar baby and he’s going to get buried a blue-collar baby,’ Mr. Trumka said. A big, bold infrastructure bill, he said, was ‘a racial justice bill, a Covid safety bill and the most important climate bill of all time, all in one.’”

Biden Expressed Solidarity with Alabama Workers Attempting to Unionize an Amazon Warehouse: “President Biden expressed solidarity with workers attempting to unionize an Amazon facility in Alabama in a video released Sunday that emphasized his broad support of the labor movement—without explicitly backing their cause or naming the company itself. Around 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, a former steel town outside of Birmingham, are voting over the next week on whether they want to be represented by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union.”

Kenneth Quinnell
Mon, 03/08/2021 – 15:17

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Updated: March 15, 2021 — 5:18 am