Feb 23, 2022
New polling results released Wednesday show that nearly two-thirds of Jefferson County, Alabama residents support Amazon workers forming a union.
"Even in the heart of the 'right-to-work' U.S. South, there is amazing potential for an energized and revitalized labor movement to score major victories."
Jefferson County is home to two Amazon warehouses--one in Birmingham and the other in Bessemer, which is in the midst of a new union election that ends on March 25. During the first two weeks of February, the Institute for Policy Studies(IPS) commissioned New South Research to survey 1,000 county residents on a range of economic justice issues, including the local unionization effort.
According to IPS, 62% of Jefferson County residents surveyed support a union at Amazon, including 79% of African American women, 78% of African Americans, and 49% of white people.
"These survey results speak to the extent of local support for the Amazon unionization effort in Jefferson County," Marc Bayard, associate fellow at IPS and director of the progressive think tank's Black Worker Initiative, said in a statement.
"Even in the heart of the 'right-to-work' U.S. South, there is amazing potential for an energized and revitalized labor movement to score major victories and improve the lives of Alabama workers," said Bayard. "This survey shows that local community members stand with unionization efforts at Amazon facilities in Jefferson County, despite misinformation campaigns."
Last year, the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) came up short during its organizing drive at Amazon's BHM1 warehouse in Bessemer--the first union election at one of the e-commerce giant's facilities in U.S. history.
Afterward, RWDSU filed nearly two dozen complaints with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) alleging that Amazon illegally threatened employees with loss of pay and benefits, installed and surveilled an unlawful ballot collection box, and expelled pro-union workers from captive audience meetings during which management argued against collective bargaining.
Last month, the NLRB threw out the results of the first election and said that it would supervise a new vote, which began on February 4 and will end on March 25.
Black workers, who make up 85% of Amazon's workforce in Bessemer, are "leading the union campaign," said Bayard, who added that "it is deeply encouraging to see so many local community members supporting one of the most momentous labor organizing campaigns in recent decades."
Jennifer Bates, a worker at Amazon's warehouse in Bessemer and member of the worker committee at BAmazon Union--an organizing campaign of the Mid-South Council of the RWDSU--said that "the excitement and energy this time is very different inside the facility and out."
"Workers are throwing down like never before and we're seeing it in our neighborhoods too," said Bates. "This time we are armed with the knowledge and power not to fall for Amazon's tricks. We know they lied last time and violated the law, and together we are standing strong."
"When we have good jobs, our families and our communities thrive," Bates added. "And it's fantastic to know people on every corner have our backs."
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