It is possible that Amazon workers don’t want the higher pay and better benefits that traditionally come with unions, but it is more likely they don’t want polarizing union leadership.
Leaders of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union will attempt to blame their loss last week at Amazon’s plant in Bessemer, AL, on Amazon or the state of Alabama law. But they would wise to look within.
The union injected partisan politics and racial strife into the union organizing drive.
Approximately 55% of the 5,876 eligible Amazon employees cast votes in the election over a two month period. The preliminary count shows only 29% supported unionization. That’s not just a defeat; it’s a humiliating defeat for labor.
Union leaders made a serious tactical error when they embraced the Democratic Party and Black Lives Matter, an extremist group with Marxist roots that sponsored rallies last summer protesting the death of George Floyd which led to violent riots.
Bessemer is a largely black community but that doesn’t mean that the Amazon workers feel they suffer from race discrimination. It is conceivable that black Amazon workers in Bessemer feel they are treated equally with white Amazon workers. So what is the issue?
What all of the Bessemer workers have in common is that they are worked like draught animals at a threshing mill.
How could the union leadership be so tone deaf as to fail to notice that 62% of Alabamans voted for GOP Pres. Donald J. Trump in the 2020 election, compared to only 36.57 % who voted for Democratic President Joe Biden?
If the union was thinking strategically, it would have been smarter to seek Trump’s support, not Biden’s. Or, even better, forego the support of either. Focus on working conditions.
It obviously didn’t help the union drive to be more or less endorsed by Biden and enthusiastically supported by U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-VT, and one-time Democratic candidate for Georgia Governor Stacie Abrams.
But it may have seriously hurt the effort when union organizers cast their lot with Black Lives Matter, which told the Bessemer workers they were at the point of a revolutionary moment for racial equity.
Union President Stuart Appelbaum was quoted as saying the BLM protests inspired the organizing effort in Bessemer. But why bring race into it? Did Appelbaum stop to think about how his comments would be received by white Amazon workers? And isn’t it kind of racist to assume that all black workers feel they are victims of race discrimination?
It is no surprise that the 6000 Amazon workers in Bessemer didn’t want their workplace to become a roiling pot of racial politicization. And who can blame them?
The union erected unnecessary obstacles to unionization by injecting racial politics into the effort and they clearly paid the price.