February 08, 2021

Wyden, Merkley, Colleagues Urge Amazon to Recognize Workers Seeking Union Representation Ahead of Key NLRB Vote

Washington, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley are urging Amazon to do right by its workers and support their efforts to freely exercise their right to organize a union.

“Amazon’s profits have soared by 70 percent over the last year because of the hard work of your employees,” Wyden and Merkley wrote in a Feb. 5 letter along with 11 Senate colleagues. “They have put in long hours and risked their own health during the COVID-19 pandemic to meet increased demand, and they deserve to share in the success they have made possible. Amazon’s employees have the right to join together to bargain collectively for a voice in their workplace, and to vote to establish their rights to negotiate. They also deserve to receive the compensation, benefits, and respect that reflect their true value to the company and to their communities.”

In the letter sent to current Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, and his successor, Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy, the senators expressed support for Amazon workers seeking to organize a union with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), and pushed the company to take this opportunity to recognize the true value of its workers to the company’s success and treat them as the critical assets they are.

The letter comes ahead of an upcoming election in Bessemer, Alabama, where Amazon warehouse workers will vote to form a union that will represent full and part-time workers. Rep. Andy Levin, D-Mich., is leading a similar letter in the House. The vote represents an important step toward advancing worker protections for all.

The senators also pushed the company to stop disgraceful attempts to coerce Amazon employees out of exercising their voices and their rights under the National Labor Relations Act. They also highlighted how the expansion of collective bargaining means workers can earn higher wages, can have more paid time off, and negotiate improved healthcare coverage, which not only benefits employees but also helps strengthen local economies, families and communities. 

In addition to Wyden and Merkley, the letter was signed by Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio., Cory Booker, D-N.J., Bob Menendez, D-N.J., Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., Tammy Baldwin, D-Wis., Ed Markey, D-Mass., Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Chris Van Hollen, D-Md. and Tina Smith, D-Minn.

The group of senators also reintroduced the Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act, comprehensive labor legislation to protect workers’ right to stand together and bargain for fairer wages, better benefits, and safer workplaces. Unions are critical to increasing wages and addressing growing income inequality—with studies showing that union members earn on average 19 percent more than those with similar education, occupation, and experience in a non-union workplace. 

A copy of the entire letter is here.