March 17, 2021
WHAT: The Rev. Dr. William J. Barber, II, will join Amazon workers in Bessemer, AL for a listening session and rally to support their campaign for a union. The Alabama Poor People’s Campaign has been a staunch supporter of the union drive and invited Rev. Barber to make a last push to encourage the workers and community to keep up the fight. Nearly 6,000 warehouse workers — some 85% of them Black — must mail their ballots to the National Labor Relations Board by March 29.
WHO: The Alabama Poor People’s Campaign invited Rev. Dr. William J. Barber II, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, a national social justice and moral leader, to travel to Alabama to support the Amazon workers’ struggle.
WHEN: 2 p.m. CT / 3 p.m. ET / Monday, March 22
WHERE: Unity CME Church, 2701 10th Avenue North, Bessemer, AL 35020 and online at https://www.poorpeoplescampaign.org/livestream/
WHY: Building the labor movement in the South is critical to any effort to transform and heal the nation. The Poor People’s Campaign stands in strong solidarity with the workers at Amazon fighting for dignity, respect and a union. Through the pandemic, Amazon saw a 200% rise in its profits, but ended hazard pay of as much as $2/hour, even as 20,000 Amazon employees contracted COVID-19. At the same time, Jeff Bezos has seen his wealth skyrocket from $113 billion to $189 billion. With this increase, he could have paid every Amazon employee a bonus of $94,000 and still maintained more than $100 billion for himself.
Workers say their colleagues have been fired for taking too much time for bathroom breaks while the company runs an aggressive anti-union campaign. A “yes” vote by the Bessemer workers to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union would uplift thousands of Amazon workers employed in warehouses across the country. The demand for union rights is among our 14 Policy Priorities to Heal the Nation: A Moral and Economic Agenda for the first 100 days.
BACKGROUND: Nationally, more than 140 million poor and low-income people live in the United States, or 43% of the country’s population, and that was before the COVID-19 pandemic, and 250,000 die each year from poverty. Among those 140 million people are: 52.2% or 39 million children (below 18); 41.9% or 21 million elders (above 65); 42.6% or 65.8 million men; 45% or 74.2 million women; 60.4% or 26 million Black people; 64.1% or 38 million Latinx people; 40.8% or 8 million Asian people; 58.9% or 2.14 million Native/Indigenous people; 33.5% or 66 million white people.
The Poor People’s Campaign: A National Call for Moral Revival, with organizing committees in 45 states, is building a moral fusion movement to address the five interlocking injustices of systemic racism, systemic poverty, ecological devastation, the war economy and militarism and a distorted moral narrative of religious nationalism. Our demands are reflected in our Jubilee Platform.