Alabama: Warehouse Workers Move to Unionize in Defiance of Amazon

Photo credit: Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times

By Mike Talavera

Workers at an Alabama warehouse moved one step closer this week towards forming the first union at a United States Amazon facility. If successful, it would be a blow to the monopoly corporation’s efforts to squash labor organizing in the country.

The last time workers came close to creating a union at Amazon was in 2014 at a Delaware warehouse. Leaked training videos have exposed how Amazon specifically trains managers to spy on worker and undermine labor organizing, even hiring Pinkerton agents to carry out this task, and the company has also employed a mass surveillance network to keep an eye on workers at all times.

The potential Alabama union exposes that while Amazon, as part of the ruling imperialist class, may have power, it is not all-powerful. The more the company has tried to repress worker organizing, the more it has provoked resistance.

At the same time, the National Labor Relations Board, which has ‘permitted’ the Alabama workers to vote on unionization, and the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which seeks to represent the workers, serve the same ruling class: NLRB as a US government agency and the RWDSU as a yellow union, whose goal in negotiating is ultimately to end resistance and get the workers back to being exploited.

On this year’s Black Friday, workers went on strike against Amazon in 15 countries, including the US. The annual strike has been going on for years but has failed to gain momentum specifically because the union and nonprofit leadership is not interested in conquering power for the working class.

Alabama has a rich history of labor organizing. During the Great Depression, the Communist Party of the USA (when it was still deserving of the name) led the Alabama Sharecroppers Union, which for years fought tirelessly for food, land, education, but most importantly for power.

The Alabama warehouse workers today face Amazon, the boss, on one side and the bureaucratic quagmire of NLRB and yellow unions on the other, neither of which promise a brighter future for the proletariat. Still, the past militant labor organizing in the South and the fact that revolution is the main trend in the world today makes even the glimmer of a fighting workers organization in Alabama a tremendous cause for inspiration to workers everywhere.