Bernie Sanders rallies behind unionizing Amazon and Starbucks workers
The Vermont senator's first stop was Staten Island, New York, where he rallied with leaders and supporters of the Amazon Labor Union (ALU) alongside Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.
Employees at Amazon's JFK8 fulfillment center made history in April by voting to become the company's first unionized facility in the US. The LDJ5 warehouse, also in Staten Island, began voting in their own union election on Monday.
Throughout workers' organizing efforts, Amazon has been accused of union-busting, including subjecting workers to mandatory anti-union meetings, spreading harmful lies about ALU organizers, and firing pro-union workers.
"What this whole thing is about is working people standing up against the extraordinary level of greed in this country. I don’t know how when you are worth $170 billion, why you are spending money trying to break a union," Sanders said to the crowd on Sunday.
"I say to Jeff Bezos, who owns a $500 million yacht, Jeff, when you're out on your yacht, I want you to think about the workers in Staten Island and your employees all over this country," Sanders continued.
"They don't want a $500 million yacht. They don't want a $23 million mansion that you have in Washington DC. They want housing that is affordable. They want to be able to put away a few bucks to send their kids to college. They don't want to be exploited and continue this massive turnover that takes place here because of the horrible working conditions."
He added that ALU members are "sending a message to every worker in America that the time is now to stand up to our oligarchy, to stand up to the success of corporate greed, to create an economy that works for all. Not just the few."
Next stop: Unity Fest!
Next stop on the senator's travel agenda was Richmond, Virginia, where he joined Starbucks Workers United's Unity Fest.
The free festival featured live music and Starbucks workers' testimonies, as well as a speech by Sanders himself.
The Starbucks organizing wave is taking the country by storm, and Virginia is no exception. Last week, five stores in Richmond, one store in Falls Church, and one store in Leesburg successfully voted to unionize.
Sanders praised workers in Virginia and across the country for standing up for themselves against rampant corporate greed.
"What these guys, whether it's Jeff Bezos of Amazon or Schultz of Starbucks, what they are worried about it's not just the money," he said. "They are worried that all over this country because of your efforts, people are going to stand up and say enough is enough."
"A union means not only better wages and working conditions, it means having some control over your job and not just being a cog in the machine," he continued. "It means being more human."
"You are in the process, along with many others throughout this country, of standing up for justice, standing up for dignity and helping to revitalize the trade union movement in this country, which will give workers a seat at the table."
Cover photo: REUTERS