The fate of Amazon workers in Bessemer, AL. has attracted the attention of some big names in Hollywood.
Comedy writer and actress Tina Fey along with Damon Lindelof (who’s written for the television show “Lost,” “The Watchmen” and the screenplay for “World War Z”) and Alfonso Cuarón (who directed the films “Roma” and “Children of Men”) signed a petition praising the Writers Guild of America and the Writers of Guild of America West and showed solidarity with the Amazon workers fighting to form a union.
“We are the writers of feature films and television series,” read the petition. “All of our work is done under union contracts whether it appears on Amazon Prime, a different streaming service, or a television network. Unions protect workers with essential rights and benefits. Most importantly, a union gives employees a seat at the table to negotiate fair pay, scheduling and more workplace policies.
“Amazon accepts unions for entertainment workers, and we believe warehouse workers deserve the same respect in the workplace,” the statement continued. “We strongly urge all Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer to VOTE UNION YES.”
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU). Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU which is conducting a unionization drive for the workers at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, AL., said he appreciates the support from union members outside of RWDSU.
“Tomorrow evening, Tina Fey will be hosting the Golden Globe Awards, but the RWDSU already thinks of her as a superstar of the labor movement,” Appelbaum said the weekend before the ceremony. “We want to thank her and the over 1,700 tv and film writers who are supporting the Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama in their fight to bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse.”
In late January, Amazon made a motion to request a stay of the union election for workers at the fulfillment center and appealed the decision by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) Region 10. The NLRB denied both motions allowing RWDSU to proceed with the election process.
In a video U.S. President Joe Biden announced his support for Amazon’s workers, which is atypical for an administration.
“Unions built the middle class,” Biden said in the video. “I made it clear when I was running that my administration’s policy would be to support union organizing and the right to collectively bargain. I’m keeping that promise.
“Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union, but especially Black and Brown workers,” Biden continued. “There should be no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda. No supervisor should confront employees about their union preferences.”
Presidents speak at union conventions, but usually don’t normally publicly support union organizing and denounce worker intimidation.
Amazon officials told the AmNews last week that since the company opened the site last March, 5,000 people now have full-time jobs in with pay starting at $15.30 an hour with “full healthcare, vision and dental insurance, 50% 401(k) match.” When asked to comment, an Amazon spokesperson directed us to the same general statement from early last month.
“We don’t believe the RWDSU represents the majority of our employees’ views,” read the statement. “Our employees choose to work at Amazon because we offer some of the best jobs available everywhere we hire, and we encourage anyone to compare our total compensation package, health benefits, and workplace environment to any other company with similar jobs.”