Bessemer, Alabama — The South has never been hospitable to organized labor. But that may be changing, with an important test in Alabama, where thousands of workers at an Amazon campus are deciding whether.
Labor organizers and advocates see the David-and-Goliath fight as a potential turning point in the region with a long history of undervalued labor and entrenched hostility to collective bargaining rights. A win could have economic and political ripples for the labor movement and its Democratic Party allies who want a stronger foothold in the South amid decades of dwindling union power nationally.
“This election transcends this one workplace. It even transcends this one powerful company,” said Stuart Appelbaum, national president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. “If workers at Amazon in Alabama, in the middle of the pandemic, can organize then that means that workers anywhere can organize.”
The mere presence of a national union figure like Appelbaum in Alabama underscores the stakes.
The Amazon vote comes as Democrats and Republicans are battling fiercely for working-class voters. Over decades, many white workers have drifted toward Republicans, attracted in part by cultural identity and an anti-establishment posture. That’s left Democrats looking to refine their economic pitch, arguing their party is the one fighting for higher wages, better working conditions and more affordable health care.
A win in Bessemer, where…