U.S. President Joe Biden commented on the March job report during a speech in the State Dining Room at the White House in Washington, USA, on April 1, 2022.
Kevin Lamarck | Reuters
President Joe Biden on Wednesday backed efforts to unite Amazon workers after a company warehouse voted last week to join a union.
“The choice to join a union belongs to the workers alone,” Biden said at a national conference of the North American Building Trade Union. “Anyway, Amazon, here we are. The clock. “
On Friday, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, voted overwhelmingly to join the Amazon Labor Union, a grassroots organization made up of current and former company employees. The election result was a watershed moment for labor organizers, who have sought to unite Amazon warehouse and delivery workers for years.
Amazon has long opposed unions within its workforce and has launched an aggressive campaign to discourage workers at the Staten Island warehouse from uniting, just as it did at the Alabama warehouse last spring, where workers rejected unionization. A do-over election at the Alabama warehouse ended Friday, but the results are hanging on a number of challenging ballots.
In March 2021, Biden endorsed union drives happening in Alabama and across the country, but he specifically stopped naming Amazon. He discouraged employers from interfering in the election.
“There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no intimidation, no anti-union propaganda,” Biden said at the time. “You know, every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. No employer can take that right now.”
In his remarks on Wednesday, Biden praised the benefits of unions, arguing that union members receive higher wages, improved benefits and a “safer, healthier workplace”.
He called on Congress to pass a law protecting the right to organize, which would protect workers trying to organize and limit employee interference in union propaganda. The PRO has been passed in the House but has been suspended in the Senate.
The successful vote on Staten Island is expected to trigger further consolidation efforts at Amazon and other companies. Amazon is also trying to organize a Staten Island warehouse near the Labor Union. That election is expected to begin later this month.
Amazon representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Biden’s comments.