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COSPONSORED WEBINAR: David Vs. Goliath – The Story of Amazon Workers in Alabama
March 26, 2021 @ 2:00 pm - 3:30 pm EDTFree
This briefing discussed the organizing efforts of Amazon workers in Alabama, what this current moment represents, and its implications for the broader labor movement.
As the largest and most viable effort to unionize Amazon in many years, the campaign by the Amazon warehouse workers and the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) signals a pivotal moment for worker organizing not only in Alabama, but also in the South and in the U.S. more broadly.
This event offered a unique opportunity for philanthropy and labor to come together to learn about worker organizing efforts both now and in the future. We invite you to learn about this momentous worker organizing effort tackling economic and racial inequality and ensuring that new technologies do not further increase workplace precarity.
Hosted by The Labor Innovations for the 21st Century Fund (LIFT) Fund and co-sponsored by the Economic Opportunity Funders and Funders for a Just Economy, this event included a panel discussion with Southern labor experts and leaders moderated by Sarita Gupta, Director of the Future of Work(ers) program at the Ford Foundation. Panelists:
Rev. Barber – President, Repairers of the Breach
Erica Iheme – Southern Director, Jobs to Move America
Stuart Appelbaum – President, RWDSU
AL Worker Leader, RWDSU
Christian Sweeney – Organizing Director, AFL-CIO
Lane Windham, Ph.D. – Associate Director, Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor
Recording Link: Click here to view the recording.
Recap: The event began with an introduction to the deep and rich history of southern worker organizing by Dr. Lane Windham, Associate Director at Georgetown University’s Kalmanovitz Initiative for Labor; it moved onto a panel discussion facilitated by Sarita Gupta, Director, Future of Work(ers), Ford Foundation, and featuring Erica Iheme, Southern Director at Jobs to Move America, Stuart Appelbaum, President at RWDSU, Mike Foster, Worker Leader at RWDSU, and Christian Sweeney, Organizing Director at AFL-CIO, that explored the organizing campaign at Amazon and the movement that’s supporting and emerging from it; and culminated with a powerful call to action and reminder by Rev. Barber, President at Repairers of the Breach & Co-chair at Poor Peoples’ Campaign, who reflected on the importance of building powerful coalitions that center racial and economic justice.
- Unionizing Amazon Workers Have Already Won, written by panelist Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU.
- John Lewis Would March from Selma to Bessemer’s Amazon Fulfillment Center, written by Erica Smiley and Erin Johansson of Jobs with Justice. In 1963, John Lewis spoke at the March on Washington for jobs and freedom. We cannot accomplish either if we isolate democracy to just the polling place—we also need to ensure that democracy exists in the workplace, so that Black workers can finally bargain for the protections and benefits they deserve. The fight starts with passing the PRO Act.
- For Amazon Workers Winning a Union Vote Would Be Just a First Step, a recent article that explores what is next in the union election, and some of the legal challenges Amazon might engage in.
- Amazon and the PRO Act, a look back at how the Amazon election might have transpired had we had different labor laws in place.