Stacey Abrams joins push for historic union vote at Amazon’s Alabama facility

In this May 20, 2018, file photo, then-Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams participates in a debate in Atlanta.
In this May 20, 2018, file photo, then-Georgia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams participates in a debate in Atlanta.

Credit: John Amis/AP

Credit: John Amis/AP

Stacey Abrams is joining one of the most watched labor-organizing initiatives in the nation by encouraging Amazon workers at an Alabama warehouse to vote to unionize.

The Georgia Democrat posted an online video Saturday urging the employees at the online retailing giant’s Bessemer, Ala. facility to form a union to “make your jobs safer, stronger and more secure.”

“You deserve the dignity and well-being that a union can help provide, allowing you to care for yourself and those you love,” said Abrams, a former gubernatorial candidate and voting rights activist widely expected to mount a rematch next year against Gov. Brian Kemp.

The tech giant is fighting a high-stakes battle to prevent its 5,805 workers at the facility near Birmingham from becoming the first Amazon warehouse in the U.S. to unionize. The company has urged its workers not to start a union, pointing to starting pay of $15.30 an hour and medical benefits.

The mail-in voting began Feb. 8 and will end March 29. Staffers are under extraordinary pressure to vote against the effort, with some reporting receiving a barrage of text messages to stay on the “winning team” and messaging in bathrooms warning their dues will be flushed down the toilet.

Abrams and other pro-labor figures have rallied around the effort. Organizers hope a union victory could ignite other campaigns at Amazon facilities and trigger new calls for higher wages and better working conditions at major firms.

During her 2018 campaign for governor, Abrams earned endorsements from most of the state’s major labor groups and promised to support legislation that supports the right to form a union and collectively bargain for wages.

She also delivered her response to President Donald Trump’s State of the Union from the IBEW union hall in Atlanta, and canceled a May 2019 appearance at the University of California to support a local union involved in a labor dispute.

In the video Saturday, Abrams called collective bargaining “democracy in action in the workplace.”

“For people of color in America, unions have been our allies in progress as they evolved,” she said. “And during the Covid-19 pandemic, unions have negotiated safer working conditions and secured critical PPE for the most vulnerable among us.”

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