Following the results of the union election at Amazon in Bessemer, Alabama, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka delivered the following remarks as prepared on a virtual press conference hosted by the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).
Thank you, Brother Stuart Appelbaum, for your earnest leadership and your unwavering commitment to worker empowerment.
To the RWDSU members and heroic Amazon workers who made this election possible: I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart.
Look, this is not the outcome any of us hoped for. And trust me, I know it hurts.
But make no mistake, you won the moment you decided to take on Amazon. Our fight for justice and dignity and safety endures. To put it more plainly, we’re not going anywhere.
When the most powerful company in the world started to bully you and intimidate you, it would have been easy to cave or compromise.
But you choose to double down, not back down!
We stand behind each and every one of you. And America is on your side.
More than three-fourths of Americans supported this organizing drive. You changed minds about unions and captured the heart of a nation.
We won't know the names of every one of the heroes who organized in Bessemer. But we don't need to know their names to know they made history.
And this righteous fight will continue to fuel a labor renaissance in America. Whether Jeff Bezos likes it or not, this organizing drive will open the floodgates to more collective action. Mark my words.
Working people in Bessemer understand something Amazon never will: This union election was about reclaiming our rightful share of power and shaping the future for generations to come.
Not just for Amazon workers in Bessemer, but all working people across America.
There is a surging movement for workplace democracy that is reaching every corner of the country.
It’s reverberating far beyond a small town in Alabama.
It's being felt by coffee shop workers in Illinois and Wisconsin, nurses at a major hospital in Maine and too many places to name right now.
It's clear: There is a groundswell of union organizing.
And working people want in.
We’re done with the brutality of being underpaid and overworked.
The indignity of being treated by management as disposable when they call us essential.
The constant fear of being fired or feeling unsafe in our workplaces.
Instead, workers want—and deserve—the rights and respect that come with a union card.
Our cause is to ensure that everyone who wants a union card in their pocket can get one.
That's a right of workers in America—the right to collectively bargain freely and fairly without interference or intimidation.
It shouldn’t be this hard to form a union.
Amazon’s behavior was outrageous, but it was not new. Their attacks are only the latest reminder that our rights have been steadily eroded by big businesses and union-busting politicians.
Fortunately, we can change this. We have to.
The right to form a union was enshrined into law under FDR. But today, it must be restored by this generation of leaders.
That’s why we need the PRO Act.
Working people should not have to walk the gauntlet to form a union.
And when we make the PRO Act the law of the land, we won’t have to.
The Senate needs to step up and level the playing field.
It’s past time to return power to workers.
To regrow union density so we can quell inequality.
The policy of the United States is to encourage collective bargaining. So we need our lawmakers to start acting like it is.
This is a moment when the potential for pro-worker change is limitless.
Let us harness the power of what happened in Bessemer to manifest a new era of workplace freedom. A new wave of worker prosperity. And a new spirit of solidarity.
Thank you. And may God bless you.