Levin Leads Colleagues in Letter to Amazon to Cease Union-busting Tactics
February 5, 2021
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Congressman Andy Levin, member of the House Education & Labor Committee, led 50 colleagues in a letter to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos to express their support for the workers who seek to organize a union with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
The lawmakers write: “This is an opportunity for your company to chart a new course and break with your history of disempowering workers. From using so-called 'flex' workers to avoid paying full benefits to your employees, to failing to provide complete data on COVID-19 spread in the workplace, to spying on employees seeking to organize a union, Amazon has a clear pattern of denying workers dignity on the job. During this campaign in Alabama, you have attempted to coerce your employees out of exercising their voices with misleading text messages and anti-union propaganda and force in-person voting during a pandemic that has resulted in the deaths of nearly 500,000 Americans.”
The letter is signed by Representatives Marcy Kaptur; Rosa L. DeLauro; Sanford D. Bishop, Jr; Nydia M. Velazquez; James P. McGovern; Bill Pascrell, Jr.; John B. Larson; Jan Schakowsky; Adam B. Schiff; Tim Ryan; Brian Higgins; Joe Courtney; Peter Welch; Paul Tonko; Judy Chu; John Garamendi; David N. Cicilline; Terri A. Sewell; Matt Cartwright; Daniel T. Kildee; Alan S. Lowenthal; Grace Meng; Mark Pocan; Mark Takano; Katherine M. Clark; Donald Norcross; Mark Desaulnier; Debbie Dingell; Bonnie Watson Coleman; Dwight Evans; Pramila Jayapal; Ro Khanna; Thomas R. Suozzi; Jimmy Gomez; Susan Wild; Jason Crow; Veronica Escobar; Sylvia R. Garcia; Jesús G. “Chuy” García; Jared F. Golden; Joe Neguse; Ilhan Omar; Katie Porter; Haley M. Stevens; Rashida Tlaib; Jennifer Wexton; Jamaal Bowman; Cori Bush; Marie Newman; and Nikema Williams.
Read the full text of the letter below:
Dear Mr. Bezos:
We write regarding the upcoming National Labor Relations Board election in Bessemer, Alabama, and to express our support for Amazon workers who seek to organize a union with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). We urge Amazon to take this opportunity to recognize the true value of your workers to your company’s success, and to treat your employees as the critical asset they are, not as a threat to be neutralized or a cost to be minimized.
Amazon’s profits have soared by 70 percent over the last year thanks in significant part to the hard work of your employees. They have put in long hours and risked their own health during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet increased demand, and they deserve to share in the success they have made possible. Your employees have the right to join together to bargain collectively for a voice in their workplace, and to vote to establish their rights to negotiate. They also deserve to receive the compensation, benefits, and respect that reflect their true value to the company.
In a recent Executive Order, President Biden wrote that, “It is the policy of the United States to encourage union organizing and collective bargaining.” The expansion of collective bargaining can be a net benefit to workers and management. Workers who belong to unions earn higher wages, have more paid time off, and negotiate improved health care coverage, which can strengthen their families and communities and help the company with improved morale and reduced turnover, recruitment, training and other costs. The workers in Alabama are also focused on advancing racial equity. Given the historic challenges our nation faces right now, these kinds of improvements are needed across the economy.
This is an opportunity for your company to chart a new course and break with your history of disempowering workers. From using so-called “flex” workers to avoid paying full benefits, to failing to provide complete data on COVID-19 spread in the workplace, to spying on employees seeking to organize a union, Amazon has demonstrated a clear pattern of denying workers’ dignity on the job. During this campaign in Alabama, you have attempted to coerce your employees out of exercising their voices with misleading text messages and anti-union propaganda. Your effort to force in-person voting in the middle of a pandemic hotspot is particularly offensive, given that you made your fortune by getting customers to abandon in-person shopping by convincing them it was safe and effective to shop online.
The upcoming election in Bessemer, Alabama is an opportunity for a reset. We ask that you stop these strong-arm tactics immediately and allow your employees freely to exercise their right to organize a union. We will be paying close attention to the way Amazon conducts itself during this vote and call on Amazon to ensure an election for its workers in Alabama that honors the dignity of work.