US President Joe Biden has indirectly expressed his support for the ongoing unionization efforts by Amazon workers with a union vote for Alabama warehouse workers expected in the coming days. Although Biden did not directly refer to this effort or Amazon, he expressed his support for workers’ efforts to create unions.
In a video shared by Bloomberg, the president noted that, while it was not up to him to decide whether workers form unions, employers must not stand in the way of such efforts. Nonetheless, Biden did refer to workers' efforts to unionize in Alabama, something that shows the president was talking about Amazon.
Biden made it clear that there shouldn’t be any form of "coercion, intimidation, or threats" towards workers seeking to form unions. The union vote in Alabama could create a very crucial precedent over the coming years. Amazon has been known to thwart and stifle any union talk within its warehouses sometimes even using underhand tactics to do so.
Amazon employees who have made any efforts to form unions have often been fired. The e-commerce giant has said many times that it believes unionizing its workforce is not in the best interest of the company and the customers it serves. But there has been increasing pressure from the political class and workers rights organization for the e-commerce giant to change its stance.
The company tried to force the vote to happen in person but the effort failed. Instead, workers will vote via mail to guarantee privacy. As a result, likely, Amazon will not retaliate against those that vote to unionize. There have been reports that the e-commerce has been deploying anti-union propaganda ahead of the Alabama vote and using other anti-union tactics to dissuade workers from unionizing.
Just last week, it took out a series of targeted ads on Twitch urging its workers to vote “no” on the ballot. It’s important to remember that Twitch is owned by Amazon. Many critics pointed this out as the clearest sign that the company will not hesitate to use its power and influence to stop any union efforts at its warehouses.
The e-commerce giant has also engaged in disinformation to confuse workers about the vote and leave everything in disarray. For instance, it was reported that Amazon was sending text messages to workers with wrong voting deadlines. In one text, the online retailer appeared to tell its Alabama workers that they had until March 1 to send in their mail-in ballot.
But in reality, workers have until March 29. Amazon has maintained that it has done nothing wrong here arguing that it has always given employees the right to decide whether they want to be in unions or not. Despite this, the company has always made it harder for unions to form within its organization. Even as Biden throws his support towards workers, it's clear Amazon’s view of unions will not change.