On February 20, 2021, the Metropolitan Baltimore community formed a caravan of cars to demonstrate solidarity with the Bessemer, Alabama Amazon workers just outside of the Dundalk Distribution warehouse with signs on their cars read “Support the Amazon workers,’ and Solidarity with the Bessemer workers.
The Baltimore People’s Power Assembly and the UJIMA Political Progress Party— a Black independent political party attempting to obtain Maryland ballot status— organized the Baltimore event. The Bessemer workers are currently voting to unionize and create collective bargaining rights with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) until March 9, 2021. Over 50 actions took place around the country on February 20.
The Amazon, Bessemer, Alabama plant ironically employs between 76 and 85 percent of Black workers in its workforce of 5800 in the heartland that once was the nation’s largest black populations from slavery up to well after 1972.
Amazon hired the Morgan Lewis law firm, one of the largest union-busting outfits in the nation, to break the union. Remember the 1981 PATCO air traffic controller’s strike; the 1993-94 baseball strike; and the 2019 GM strike using activities.
Remember, who aided McDonalds in fighting unionization and the $15 an hour minimum wage. Microsoft, Dell and Google have been among Morgan Lewis’ clients.
It’s not the first time Amazon reached out to Morgan Lewis to do its bidding. The firm thwarted the machinist union at Amazon in 2014. They represented Amazon in worker lawsuits that claimed they were cheated out of wages and benefits. They also defended Amazon against worker claims of failure to pay for worker overtime, and alleged insufficient COVID-19 safety precautions.
One of the firm’s jobs this time around for Amazon was to make every effort to stop recognition of the union. They opposed Amazon workers’ mail-in ballots. However, workers succeeded in winning this battle.
“We express solidarity with the Bessemer Amazon workers, tied into the same struggle that made Amazon a $1.7 trillion operation on the backs of its workers,” said Nnamdi Lumumba, the UJIMA PPP’s Maryland coordinator.
Former Coppin State University professor, Dr. Ken Morgan is a human rights activist. He can be reached at btimes @btimes.com