Grave diggers and pot farmers: The org behind Amazon workers’ union push

This month, Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama will cast mail-in ballots on whether or not to unionize.

March 26, 2021

This month, Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, will cast mail-in ballots on whether or not to unionize.

It’s the first vote to unionize Amazon workers since a failed attempt in 2014 — and the largest by far. Only 30 technical warehouse workers participated in the 2014 vote in Delaware, compared to Bessemer’s ~5.8k workers.

So, which union are Bessemer workers joining?

Meet the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)

Founded in 1937, RWDSU refers to itself as a “progressive” union focused on forwarding change and social justice.

As The New York Times notes, the union spans racial, geographic, and political lines; the majority of its 100k+ members are people of color.

It also boasts professional diversity: Its members include grave diggers, airline caterers, poultry processors, and cannabis gardeners.

Now all eyes are on Amazon…

Organizers believe a successful union at the Bessemer warehouse could lead other Amazon employees to follow suit.

And that’s no small matter: the company has 1.2m workers worldwide.

As the union push has attracted bipartisan support, Amazon has attempted to dissuade potential members with texts, mandatory meetings, and an anti-union website featuring… a vinyl-spinning dog.

The mail-in vote is set to end on March 29.

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