Dear MoveOn member,
My name is Jennifer Bates, and I started working at Amazon in May of 2020, not too long after its warehouse opened in Bessemer, Alabama. By my third day, I was hurting. I looked around and saw it wasn't just me. My co-workers and I—including older, younger, and middle-aged people—limp from constantly moving products around a four-story building the size of 16 football fields, where we aren't allowed to use the elevators.
We tried to form a union, but Amazon spent millions of dollars to stop us. As soon as Amazon found out that we were working with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, it started going hard trying to stop the union drive. We were forced into what the company called "union education" meetings. We had no choice but to attend them.
Our fight for representation isn't over—and the fight to make sure that workers have full rights to organize has just begun. Will you join me in calling on our senators to pass the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act and make it harder for giant corporations like Amazon to prevent workers from unionizing?
All around the plant, Amazon had put up anti-union signs and messages. It sent messages to workers' phones. It even had signs posted in the bathroom stall. No place was off-limits. No place seemed safe.
This wouldn't have happened if the PRO Act—a significant piece of worker empowerment legislation that would change the power dynamics in America for generations—were law right now. It gives power back to workers and holds corporations accountable for union-busting. But since the Senate hasn't passed it yet, there's a real risk that other corporations will see what Amazon did in Bessemer and replicate it around the country.
We first started to talk about unionizing one day during a break. A co-worker said, "They wouldn't be doing this to us if we had a union."
Why can't such a large and wealthy company do better for its workers? Amazon even took away our essential worker pay in the middle of the pandemic. Meanwhile, Amazon has made tons of money during this crisis. Jeff Bezos is the richest man in the world. And now he's even richer, thanks to his workers.
Amazon continues to deny us good working conditions and claims we should be happy with what we have, and then it turns around and spends millions to tell us we don't need a union.
We're filing objections to hold the company accountable for its union-busting, but we also want to make sure corporations can't do this again. If the PRO Act passes, corporations would face consequences for that kind of union-busting behavior.
–Jennifer Bates, Learning Ambassador at Amazon BHM1 on behalf of AFL-CIO
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