Retailers

Poll Finds Majority of Americans Support Amazon Union Drive

Separately, e-tail giant apologizes over worker conditions tweet
Amazon Bessemer Union Drive
Photograph: Shutterstock

As the tallying of ballots continues in Bessemer, Ala., where some 5,800 workers at the Amazon fulfillment center there have cast their votes for or against unionization, a new poll of registered voters from the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) along with survey researchers GBAO Strategies finds that 77% of Americans support the Amazon union drive.

The findings come days after voting closed in the organizing drive and demonstrate a significant rise in public support, said the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) in a release announcing the new poll. The organization points to a February Data for Progress report, which found that 69% of likely voters supported the unionization effort.

“In every corner of the country, working people are crying out for change,” said AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka, in a statement. “We aren’t just bearing the brunt of this pandemic. For decades, we’ve been bled dry by a rigged, corporate-first economy. Amazon workers in Bessemer are tearing down that system, and America is standing with them.”

 “This is what solidarity looks like,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the RWDSU, in the release. “America is standing shoulder to shoulder with Amazon workers in Bessemer. People across the country and of all backgrounds recognize the systematic injustice that Amazon is inflicting on its own workers. This fight is universal—it’s a struggle for the fundamental rights and dignities that all working people deserve.”

The nationwide poll surveyed 600 registered voters from March 28-30, who were asked: “As you may know, some workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are proposing to form a union to negotiate with the company on working conditions. Do you support or oppose these Amazon workers forming a union to negotiate on working conditions?”

The survey, which carries a margin of error of +/-4 percentage points, found that 77% supported the unionization and 16% opposed. In terms of political affiliation, 96% of democrats and 79% of independents were in support, as were 55% of republicans.

The poll results come at a time when Amazon has made a series of social media missteps in its efforts to defend its position that its workers are better off without a union.

In response to a recent tweet from Dave Clark, CEO of Amazon worldwide consumer, in which he said his employer offers a “progressive workplace,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), tweeted: “Paying workers $15/hr doesn’t make you a ‘progressive workplace’ when you union-bust & make workers urinate in water bottles.

The company tweeted the following back to Pocan: “You don’t really believe the peeing in bottles thing, do you? If that were true, nobody would work for us. The truth is that we have over a million incredible employees around the world who are proud of what they do, and have great wages and health care from day one.”

On April 2, Amazon said the tweet was “incorrect” and issued an apology to Pocan in the About Amazon section of its website, which read in part: “This was an own-goal, we’re unhappy about it, and we owe an apology to Representative Pocan.

“First, the tweet was incorrect. It did not contemplate our large driver population and instead wrongly focused only on our fulfillment centers. … Second, our process was flawed. The tweet did not receive proper scrutiny. We need to hold ourselves to an extremely high accuracy bar at all times, and that is especially so when we are criticizing the comments of others. Third, we know that drivers can and do have trouble finding restrooms because of traffic or sometimes rural routes, and this has been especially the case during COVID when many public restrooms have been closed. This is a long-standing, industrywide issue and is not specific to Amazon.”

 

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