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In response to Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, AL losing their vote to form a union, Gina Cummings, Vice President of Alliances, Advocacy, and Policy for Oxfam America made the following statement:

By Oxfam

“Today’s election loss demonstrates unequivocally that workers need more tools to have their voices heard and counted within Amazon and in the broader economy.

For too long, corporations have used their massive economic power to crack down on worker organizing and their outsized political influence to tilt the rules governing union elections and collective bargaining in their favor. We see the results of this every day – CEOs, corporations and their rich investors reaping skyrocketing profits while their hard-working employees struggle to put food on the table.

Unions bargain not just for wages, but for reasonable schedules, humane productivity standards, adequate bathroom breaks – and more.

Oxfam sends a deep thank you to the tireless organizers and advocates who worked day and night to rally these workers to understand the benefits of unionizing. We stand in solidarity with union organizers as they seek to ensure the election was conducted fairly and legally.

Next month, Amazon shareholders will vote on a resolution filed by Oxfam and other Amazon investors that urges the company to include hourly workers on the Board of Directors. Consistent input from hourly workers can significantly improve a company’s welfare, as well as conditions for the workforce.

Policymakers also need to step up and act on behalf of workers. The PRO (Protecting the Right to Organize) Act, passed by the House in March and currently under consideration in the Senate, is the most significant pro-labor legislation in years; it offers a wide range of protections for workers, especially around organizing. The Senate must pass this bill quickly.

The Bessemer union drive came at a time when workers are struggling while the company is thriving. As the COVID-19 pandemic drove a surge in online sales, Amazon gained $600 billion in market value in 2020, and CEO Jeff Bezos s is now the richest man on earth. Yet as thousands of Amazon workers contracted COVID-19, the company stopped paying hazard pay in June of 2020.

Amazon workers also understand that employers take advantage of systemic marginalization, and they see the power in joining together. The workforce draws from the area around Bessemer--where the population is 72% Black, and the median income is roughly half the national average—and is believed to be largely Black.

We hope this tireless fight inspires millions of other workers in this country who struggle to stay afloat, to stay healthy, and to thrive not just now, at this difficult moment, but in normal times and years to come.”

/ENDS

Notes to editors:

  • Oxfam’s current shareholder proposal calling for an hourly associate to be considered for Amazon’s board has the following co-filers: Vermont Pension Investment Committee, Benedictine Sisters of Mount St. Scholastica, Employees’ Retirement System of Rhode Island, The Province of Saint Joseph of the Capuchin Order, and Missionary Oblates of Mary Immaculate.
  • Oxfam filed a shareholder proposal last year calling for greater monitoring of human rights risks in Amazon’s supply chain gathered nearly 40% of the independent vote total

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