NEWS: Sanders Writes Letter Asking President Biden to Fulfill Campaign Promise and Cancel Amazon’s Federal Contracts

WASHINGTON, April 26 – As Amazon refuses to recognize the historic vote to unionize a warehouse on Staten Island, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) Tuesday sent a letter to President Joe Biden asking him to fulfill his campaign promise to stand with workers and strengthen the union organizing movement by preventing companies engaged in illegal anti-union activities from receiving federal contracts paid for by the taxpayers of the United States. In the letter, Sanders urged President Biden to sign an Executive Order to implement this plan.

The federal government spends more than $600 billion each year on contracts to thousands of companies who employ more than four million contract workers. Since 2004, Amazon has received thousands of federal contracts worth billions of dollars.

“Last September, I was delighted to hear you state that you ‘intend to be the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history,’” wrote Sanders. “At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, where too many workers are falling behind, your sentiment is exactly right…As you will recall, during the presidential campaign you promised to ‘institute a multi-year federal debarment for all employers who illegally oppose unions’ and to ‘ensure federal contracts only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns.’ That campaign promise was exactly right. Today, I am asking you to fulfill that promise.”

One of the largest and most profitable corporations in America, Amazon is the poster child as to why this anti-union busting Executive Order is needed now more than ever. Amazon spent over $4 million on consultants last year alone in an effort to prevent its warehouses from unionizing. Amazon has also been penalized more than $75 million for breaking federal discrimination and wage laws, is currently being sued by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) for illegal anti-union retaliation, and has 59 Unfair Labor Practice cases currently open against them. Amazon’s inadequate workplace safety policies also pose grave risks to its workers – in some cases workplace injury rates rising to more than 2.5 times the industry average. Last December, six Amazon workers died after they were required to continue working during unsafe weather conditions in a warehouse that did not have appropriate safety facilities or policies.

“Mr. President: It is abundantly clear that time and time again Amazon has engaged in illegal anti-union activity,” Sanders wrote. “Amazon may be a large and profitable corporation, it may be owned by one of the wealthiest people in America, but it cannot be allowed to continue to violate the law and the rights of its employees. The time has come to tell Amazon that if it wants another federal contract it must obey the law.”

The recent votes to unionize at Amazon comes amidst a wave of worker protests, strikes, and unionizing efforts being seen across industries, generations, and states, including at least 185 strikes at 255 locations in 2021. Sanders continues to stand with workers across the country in their efforts to unionize, including Starbucks workers across the country, John Deere workers in the Midwest, steelworkers in West Virginia, Kroger workers in Colorado, Kellogg workers across four states, Rich Products bakery workers in California, WarriorMet miners in Alabama, Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, McDonald’s workers, GSOC/UAW graduate workers at NYU, UVM Medical Center residents, more the 30,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers across the country, and more.

Read the full letter, here.