Battleground Baltimore: Maryland Shows Solidarity with Unionizing Amazon Workers
by Lisa Snowden, Brandon Soderberg, and Jaisal Noor
Published February 26 in The Real News Network
Excerpt: On Sunday, Feb. 20, outside of the Sparrows Point Amazon facility in Baltimore County, several dozen people braved freezing temperatures to hold a car caravan and demonstration in solidarity with unionizing Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama.
The historic union drive of mostly Black Amazon workers in Alabama is making waves across the country, including in Baltimore, where dozens rallied in solidarity last weekend. The highest-profile organizing drive in the South in recent memory has gained steam amid a COVID-19 pandemic that has boosted Amazon’s profits and market share, along with the wealth of its founder Jeff Bezos (who has gained at least $90 billion and is reportedly seeking to buy the Washington Football Team). Hundreds of workers across the country have contracted COVID-19, and many have been fired for speaking out about unsafe working conditions.
5,800 workers at an Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama, are voting on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSW), and face what they say is an anti-union campaign and blatant intimidation by management, which is trying to thwart unionization efforts by tracking employees, hiring anti-union firms, and using a host of other anti-union tactics. The group More Perfect Union has documented the various techniques Amazon has engaged in, including even changing traffic light patterns to disrupt union activity. This week, it was reported that Amazon has offered to pay $1,000-$2,000 to workers if they quit before March 16, 13 days before voting ends on March 29.
The demonstration in Baltimore County was one of dozens of actions that took place across the country to demand Amazon respect the right of its workers to organize and improve safety conditions, organizers said.