This month, Bernie Sanders got the chance to talk to Amazon Labor Union organizers at a Jacobin event. He told them that he will do everything he can to see their efforts spread all over this country.
The victory that Amazon workers won in Staten Island has been an inspiration for millions of people all over this country. They took on one of the most powerful corporations in this country, owned by one of the wealthiest people in this country — a corporation that spent millions and millions of dollars trying to prevent a union. With a grassroots effort, a locally organized union with almost no financial resources, they beat Amazon. That is remarkable, and from the bottom of my heart, I want to congratulate them.
All across this country, people are saying, “Whoa. If these guys at Amazon are taking on that company, we can do it too.” As Nelson Mandela said, “Everything is impossible until it is done.” You did it. Already, there are Amazon warehouses all over the country that want more information as to how you did it. We’re looking at a national, sweeping movement.
I think that in America today — and you are helping to lead the effort — people are sick and tired of corporate greed. You work for a company owned by a man who is worth $180 billion. He has spent $500 million on a yacht. He has a mansion with twenty-five bathrooms. And yet he is continuing to squeeze his workers as hard as he can, and to fight the ability of workers to come together for decent wages, decent benefits, decent schedules, and decent working conditions.
Whether it’s Jeff Bezos, the people who own Starbucks, or wherever else exploitation is taking place, people are saying, “Enough is enough.” Today we’re living in an economy where it’s not just Bezos — you have all kinds of corporations making huge amounts of profits. We have more income and wealth inequality than we’ve had in a hundred years. During the pandemic, Bezos and others have become phenomenally richer, while ordinary workers are falling further and further behind.
What I think working people understand is that, if they’re going to get decent wages and dignity on the job, they need to come together; they need to form a union; they need to sit down together and get what they need through collective bargaining. I don’t know if we’re entering a period like the 1930s and the Depression, when we saw massive union organizing. At that point, unemployment was really high; people were terribly exploited.
We’re living in a different time right now. But I think that, at this moment, what you guys at Amazon have done has touched a nerve. People are saying, “Enough is enough. Working people in the richest country on earth deserve decent wages, health care, schedules, etc.” I look forward to working with you, and I know that I have colleagues in Congress who feel the same.
Our demand now is that Bezos and Amazon sit down and start negotiating a contract with you. Our demand is that he stop spending millions to stop workers from exercising their constitutional right to form a union. I’m enormously gratified and inspired by what you have done, and I look forward to doing everything I can to see the work that you have done spread all over this country.
Congratulations, and keep up the great work.