By CATHERINE THORBECKE, ABC News
(WASHINGTON) — President Joe Biden threw his support behind labor unions in a new video posted on Twitter that comes right as Amazon workers in Alabama are voting on whether to unionize.
The president did not mention Amazon by name but alluded to the high-profile organizing efforts at the e-commerce giant, saying, “Today and over the next few days and weeks, workers in Alabama and all across America are voting on whether to organize a union in their workplace.”
“Unions put power in the hands of workers, they level the playing field, they give you a stronger voice, for your health, your safety, higher wages protections from racial discrimination and sexual harassment,” Biden said. “Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union, but especially Black and Brown workers.”
“So let me be really clear, it’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union,” the president said. “But let me be even more clear, it’s not up to an employer to decide that either. The choice to join a union is up to the workers — full stop.”
Biden added that there should be “no intimidation, no coercion, no threats, no anti-union propaganda” from employers toward unionizing efforts. He noted that the law guarantees workers the right to choose whether or not to join a union, emphasizing that “no employer can take that right away.”
“So make your voice heard,” the president told workers.
The video has garnered some 2 million views on Twitter since it was posted Sunday evening.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., shared the video to his followers on Monday morning, thanking Biden for speaking up on the issue.
“If Amazon workers in Alabama — a strong anti-union state — vote to form a union, it’ll be a shot heard around the world,” Sanders wrote. “If they can negotiate higher wages & better working conditions in the South, it’ll benefit every worker in America. Thank you, Mr. President, for speaking out.”
Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama, have begun voting on whether to form a union, The Associated Press reported, calling the efforts Amazon’s “biggest union push in its history.” Mail-in voting is expected to go until the end of March.
Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), which is supporting Amazon workers’ efforts in Alabama, issued a statement Sunday evening thanking Biden for his message.
“Thank you, President Biden, for sending a clear message of support for the BAmazon Union workers in Alabama seeking to bring the first union to an Amazon warehouse with the RWDSU,” Appelbaum said.
“As President Biden points out, the best way for working people to protect themselves and their families is by organizing into unions,” the statement added. “And that is why so many working women and men are fighting for a union at the Amazon facility in Bessemer, Alabama.”
Amazon did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request on Monday for comment on Biden’s video or the unionizing efforts.
Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.