April 13, 2022

The Right to Unionize in this Country is Pivotal to Protecting Workers’ Rights

Russ Feingold President

Russ Feingold
ACS President Russ Feingold

In recent weeks, built on many, many months of hard work, we’ve witnessed pivotal labor victories at Amazon and Starbucks. In total, these wins may only apply to hundreds of workers, but in terms of the lasting impact on the labor movement, I think we’re seeing that illusive term – momentum.

It’s no secret that labor has been hard hit in recent decades, with union membership at an all-time low in the United States. At the same time, the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to the forefront the critical importance of organized labor in protecting and championing workers’ rights, safety, and salary.

I believe all Amazon and Starbucks employees should be allowed to unionize. The steps that companies like Amazon are taking to prevent the unionization of their workforce are appalling, from firing workers who protest working conditions, to hiring high-priced union busters, to creating fake social media accounts to spout propaganda about working conditions. Amazon has grown to the behemoth that it is on the backs of its labor force. It is unacceptable for the company to turn around and try to suppress the efforts of that same labor force to unionize and organize for better working conditions.

Enormous credit goes to Chris Smalls for his grassroots organizing work to unionize the Staten Island Amazon warehouse. The union victory is big in and of itself, but to have come from the organic efforts of Smalls and his colleagues is an even more exciting win.

With Starbucks, one union victory has led to another and another, with workers at over a hundred individual Starbucks stores signing cards in support of unionization - and this is in the food service industry, which doesn’t often see union efforts. I hope we see similar momentum with Amazon.

The right to unionize in this country is pivotal to protecting workers’ rights and to giving workers their well-earned seat at the table.

I also want to applaud the Biden-Harris administration’s announcement of five more judicial nominees this week, continuing the administration’s commitment to the courts. As we celebrate Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s historical and bipartisan confirmation, I also want to applaud the Senate for confirming 12 lower court judges while Judge Jackson’s nomination was being considered. This is what it means to prioritize the courts, to continue to nominate and confirm lower court judicial candidates even as the administration and Senate work on a multitude of other issues and priorities. We look forward to this same commitment throughout the coming months, as dozens of federal court vacancies remain.

Fair Pay, Worker Safety, Workers’ Rights