On Feb. 20 in Renton, Washington, workers from across the western part of the state gathered to show their solidarity for the intimately linked issues of housing insecurity and the right of Amazon warehouse employees to organize a union in Bessemer, Alabama.
Despite scattered showers and mid-30°s weather, close to 300 people showed up to voice their support. Among the organizers and supporters in the crowd were community members, rank and file union members, and local activists from Tenants Union of Washington, King County Labor Council, IBEW Local 77, UNITE HERE Local 8, Teamsters, Party for Socialism and Liberation, Seattle DSA, Amazon Employees for Climate Justice and others.
The organizers spoke about the need for supporting bills like SB 5160, which provides a modicum of protection against the landlords. The group also denounced the “Multi-Family Housing Association,” a landlord lobbyist group that represents corporate apartment landlords with billions of dollars in assets. The Association for their part has been lobbying at the state’s capital Olympia every day to allow landlords to do whatever they please with tenants during this pandemic.
About an hour after gathering participants marched under Interstate 405 to the Amazon “Flex” warehouse DSE5. Once there, speakers from DSA, UNITE HERE and other organizations spoke on the importance of the right to unionize, and the importance of actually organizing and standing together for our rights.
Former Amazon workers from warehouses and corporate offices alike shared stories of oppressive conditions across the company. Speakers railed against the injustice of a system that would allow one man to reap billions in profits from socialized labor while thousands under him suffer in poverty. The rally finished up with a very high energy crowd singing “Solidarity Forever” as they left DSE5.