Photo: Activists rally in front of a Detroit Whole Foods in support of Amazon workers’ unionization efforts in Alabama. Liberation photo: Jason Tschantre
Activists in Detroit rallied in front of the Whole Foods store in Midtown on March 6 in support of Amazon workers in Bessemer, Ala. Those workers are currently voting on whether to form the first Amazon workers’ union in the United States.
Protesters formed a picket line at the store’s main entrance, blocking the entry of dozens of cars to the Whole Foods parking lot and facing down a half dozen police squad cars.
In addition to their support for the Alabama Amazon workers, the protesters called attention to unsafe working conditions inside Detroit Whole Foods. In late February, 24 workers contracted COVID-19.
Called by Party for Socialism and Liberation Detroit, the action included organizers from Detroit Will Breathe, the coalition fighting Amazon’s takeover of Detroit’s Michigan state fairgrounds, Moratorium Now Coalition, and other groups.
Picket signs read “Amazon Whole Foods Unsafe for Workers” and “Amazon Workers Need a Union,” and the picketers chanted “What’s disgusting? Union busting!” Amazon has engaged in tactics to stall and derail the union vote in Alabama by firing union organizers, hiring Pinkerton detectives to surveil the employees and even changing traffic light patterns to minimize visibility for the workers who are organizing.
PSL Detroit outlined three demands: respect the legal right of Amazon workers to form a union; use Amazon’s massive profits to provide safe working conditions and a living wage to all its employees; and pay taxes. “In 2018, Amazon paid zero dollars and zero cents in federal taxes,” said Brandon Stout, a member of PSL Detroit. “Instead, Amazon received $129 million in a federal tax refund.”
Protests in 50 cities have been held in support of the Amazon workers’ union drive. A national day of solidarity actions has been called for March 20.