Amazon, here we come, says President Biden in address to union leaders

President Biden addressing the North American Legislative Conference of Construction Unions. (Twitter screenshot via @POTUS)

Just days after the company suffered the losing end of a landmark union election, President Joe Biden gave a forcefully worded jab to Amazon during a speech to union leaders on Wednesday.

Speaking at the North America’s Building Trades Unions Legislative Conference, Biden played to a crowd that clearly loved Amazon’s election loss at one of its warehouse facilities in Staten Island, NY. It was the first time in the tech giant’s nearly 28-year history that it had successfully voted employees to host.

During his remarks, Biden said unions are about providing dignity and respect for people “who break their necks”.

“That’s why I created the White House Task Force on Worker Organizing and Empowerment,” Biden said. “Make sure that the choice to join a union rests solely with the workers.

“By the way, Amazon here we come,” the president added, leaning on his remarks with a sly smile that drew a loud cheer from the audience. “Watch! Watch!” he said, raising a pointed finger.

“By the way, Amazon here we come.”

President Biden promotes workers’ right to unite during talks with North American construction unions

— The recount (@therecount) Apr 6, 2022

White House press secretary Jen Psaki was later asked if Biden endorsed Amazon employees’ efforts to create unions.

Psaki said Biden did not send any message that the president or the federal government would be directly involved in any of those efforts. Psaki said the comments highlighted Biden’s long-standing support for collective bargaining and more.

WH Press sec. Jen Psaki when asked if President Biden approved of Amazon workers’ union efforts:

“What he conveyed is his long-standing support for collective bargaining, for workers’ rights to organize, and their decision to do just that in this case.”

— The recount (@therecount) Apr 6, 2022

Last Friday, workers at Amazon’s JFK 8 fulfillment center on Staten Island voted 2,654 to 2,131 to join the Amazon Labor Union, an organization led by a former employee who was fired after leading a strike over the COVID-19. -working conditions in the facility.

It was a milestone for the labor movement and a setback for the tech giant after years of successful resistance to organized labor in its US operations. ALU leader Christian Small has said he plans to spread the movement to Amazon facilities across the country.

Charlotte Garden, an associate professor at Seattle University School of Law who is an expert in labor and employment law, told GeekWire last week that once the National Labor Relations Board confirms the union’s victory, the next step will be negotiation.

“Amazon’s legal obligation is to sit down and negotiate in good faith — but the penalties for companies that fail to meet their obligations are extremely weak, and Amazon will be motivated to work things out as much as possible,” Garden said.

Last year, without naming Amazon, Biden tweeted a video expressed support for unions as workers at another Amazon facility, in Bessemer, Ala., tried to organize.

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