A group of liberal House Democrats is meeting with Amazon workers in Alabama on Friday, the latest move by the party to support union drives as it tries to get pro-labor legislation through Congress.
Organized by Rep. Andy Levin of Michigan, a labor lawyer who worked for years with the AFL-CIO, the delegation will include Rep. Terri A. Sewell of Alabama and three liberal freshmen: Reps. Nikema Williams (Ga.), Cori Bush (Mo.) and Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.). Bush and Bowman were elected after ousting longtime incumbents in the 2020 primaries.
“This is about standing in solidarity with workers, with labor and uplifting the working class,” Bowman said in an interview before heading to the Bessemer, Ala., union hall. “I was a member of the teachers union and the principals union during my time in public education. My wife is a teacher, and she’s in a union. So this is personal for me.”
The trip is the result of a letter Levin wrote a month ago, but the union drive in Bessemer got more national attention last Sunday when Biden recorded a video supporting the drive for a National Labor Relations Board election. Biden did not mention Amazon by name, or the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is working with employees at the Bessemer fulfillment center.
“It’s not up to me to decide whether anyone should join a union,” Biden said in the video. “But let me be even more clear: It’s not up to the employers, either.” Biden’s video, coming after reports of pressure by Amazon on workers, was the first intervention by any president in a union drive in decades.
“There was palpable excitement from the workers after that,” said Chelsea Connor, a spokeswoman for the union.