The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Amazon Claims Victory after Stacking the Deck

Apr 12, 2021

After the vote to unionize almost 6,000 Amazon employees at a Bessemer, Alabama warehouse went down to defeat, the company boasted that the vote represented a free choice by its employees against the union.

What a lie! There was no free choice!

Back in the fall, over 3,000 Amazon workers in Bessemer had signed union cards. That was the workers’ choice.

But in this country, it is not enough for workers to say they want a union if the company opposes it. Instead, to get union recognition, the government steps in and imposes a drawn-out process that includes an election. This gives the company plenty of time to roll out a big anti-union campaign.

That’s exactly what Amazon did. Before the union election, it forced all employees to attend anti-union meetings. Supervisors harangued individual workers. Many of the original 3,000 workers who signed union cards were forced out or fired. The company hung anti-union fliers everywhere, including in bathroom stalls. It used social media to spread fake news. The company even got the U.S. Post Office to put a mail box on company property to intimidate and spy on workers when they cast their vote.

A lot of politicians, including Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders and Marco Rubio, said they supported the Amazon workers. But those were just words. The law serves the company, not the workers.

It’s been used against workers who wanted a union over and over again, including at Walmart, Nissan and Volkswagen.

After this latest defeat, top union officials say they want the law changed, so it favors the workers more and the company less.

Don’t believe it. Looking to the politicians, Congress and the government never got workers anything.

Everything workers have ever gotten, they have had to fight for and win. That includes unions.

Unions are workers’ organizations. Workers build unions during periods of struggle and social movements. During the 1880s, workers built unions in carrying out the great strikes for the 8-hour day. In the 1930s, workers built unions in order to carry out sit-down strikes and general strikes.

Workers didn’t need the permission of the company or the government. The workers built the unions themselves.

But once workers stopped fighting, the companies and the government moved to take back what they had given up, including by destroying the unions. For decades they have decimated the standard of living of big parts of the working class.

The conditions and pay at Amazon are a testament to that destruction. Amazon is the second largest employer in the country, with a million employees. The company’s stock, valued at close to two trillion dollars, is worth more money than the economies of most countries. Jeff Bezos is the richest person in the country.

This empire is built on the backs of a poorly paid, super-exploited workforce that is driven so hard, under conditions that are so brutal, most don’t last more than a year. But for every worker who leaves Amazon, there are a hundred outside the door ready to take their place, because the mass of workers in this country with no steady income has increased so tremendously.

That’s not due to a bad boss or company, but the workings of the entire capitalist system. The more companies squeeze the working class, the richer the capitalists get.

It is a permanent class war.

To end the attacks, to end this class war, the working class, which produces all the wealth and makes everything run, will have to make a revolution and take the power away from the capitalist class. Society will be reorganized so that it is run in the interests of everyone. And the working class will finally be able to enjoy the fruits of its labor.