Pinkerton: The Five Take-Away Lessons from the Amazon Workers Victory Over Union-Busting Billionaire Bezos, a David and Goliath Story

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    On one hand, the Biden administration appears to have been in support of the Amazon unionization initiative. It's a first for the Biden administration because, although there's been a long history of support for unions, the Democratic Party has historically been the union-friendly party; however, the two previous Democratic presidents were notably anti-labor.

    From an argumentative point of view, Bill Clinton and Barack Obama claimed to be allies of unions, but in actual terms of policy, such as Clinton's support for the North American Free Trade Agreement and opening up to China and Obama's support of Big Tech gig-work platforms — they were adversaries. So, during those two Democratic administrations, the private sector union membership continued to steadily decline.

    However, it's possible that certain Democrats have changed their minds. The nominees of Joe Biden to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB which oversees union elections) are very committed to support for unionization. They also contributed to the Amazon vote. They will certainly assist in future union elections.

    Biden himself loves to talk about being pro-union. In April, speaking in front of the North American Building Trades Unions in Washington, D.C., Biden spoke about his labor credentials, and then added, “By the way, Amazon, here we come.” Listening to the roar in the field was a reminder of how labor made up a genuine movement that could become a reality.

    The AFL-CIO proudly exultated Biden's remarks while it was reported that the Washington Post added the headline, “President Biden appears to back broadening union push at Amazon.”

    The Post's coverage is particularly fascinating to follow since the paper is, of course, run by Jeff Bezos, the billionaire founder of Amazon. Amazon's e-commerce empire has an uncompromisingly anti-union policy (with the aid of, it seems, several democratically-minded Democrats). On the other hand, the Post is a major union, and the writer at the Post jokingly stated the Staten Island victory over Amazon management was “stunning.”

    However, it's possible that Biden's pro-union statement was simply another of his many ad-libs. It's like his previous comments regarding corn pops or ponies with dog faces or changes to the government that took place in Russia.

    Indeed, just hours after Biden's reference to Amazon, White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki was — you already know it, walking it back. “What he was not doing is sending a message that he or the U.S. government would be,” she said, “directly involved in any of these efforts.”

    Did we not mention that Amazon has a number of influential lobbyists and influencers on its payroll, among them Jay Carney, who was a decade ago Vice Biden's communications manager? In fact, The Wall Street Journal reports that Amazon intends to appeal the union-friendly outcome; Amazon is of course able to afford hiring the best lawyers as well as top lobbyists and social media schmoozers.

    So what's coming next? The most dramatic unionization campaign ever since 1930? Or, the labor-unionized version of Biden's failed Build Back Better? It's as unclear as the ideas in the head of the 46th president.

    However, there is a lot of increasing union activism and as we await what's next to come from the mouth of the president, here are five things to be watching:

    1. According to historical norms, American wages have been very low and profits have been high, and it is possible to see a recalibration.

    Based on the St. Louis Federal Reserve, the percentage of GDP taken in by the compensation paid to workers has decreased over the last half-century, dropping from an all-time high of 65 percent as of 1970, to just 60 percent today. (Labor's percentage reached its lowest in the Obama era.)

    Five percent (from 65-60) may not sound huge, but when you consider an economy that is worth $21 trillion, that's roughly 1 trillion dollars. In other words, it's a trillion dollars that went from the wages of workers to many places which includes corporate profits. According to the St. Louis Fed, corporate profits have reached new records, and have increased by about one trillion dollars over the past 10 years.

    There is no need to be any sort of socialist or redistributionist in order to tell when things are off kilter there. Things that aren't in kilter tend to return to the norms they're used to. In terms of the role unions play in securing higher wages, it's not difficult to understand: People who are members of unions enjoy greater bargaining power than their employers, which means they generally get higher wages and are better treated.

    It's a fact, as per 2020 figures provided by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that unionized employees were paid around 19 percent higher than workers who were not unionized. (Although an important factor in the achievement in the bargaining process of unions is America First trade and immigration policies, which ensure that the business won't be overrun by cheap labor or imports and won’t just pack up and move to another country.)

    1. Americans love a David-and-Goliath story.

    In response to the schism between the giant Amazon and the nascent Amazon Labor Union (ALU), John Logan, an associate faculty member of the department of labor in San Francisco State University, declared, “This is an astounding result.” He further said, “With ALU, it also seems to turn all of the conventional organizing wisdom on its head. They did it without a huge union or experienced organizers.”

    Christian Smalls, aged 33 and is the main power for this organization, the Amazon Labor Union, is the most recent Young Man with a Sling. and Amazon has been … Well it's up to you to decide.

    As per the New York Times, in response to Small's first campaigning effort to organize the group two years earlier:

    Amazon created a reaction team of 10 departments comprising their Global Intelligence Program, a security team staffed by a number of veterans of the military. Amazon appointed the position of an “incident commander” and used the “Protest Response Playbook” and “Labor Activity Playbook” to protect against “business disruptions,” according to court documents that were released recently. In the final analysis, the company had more executives, including 11 vice presidents, being informed about the protest than those who were present.

    Goliath-Amazon exacerbated the issue for itself by unintentionally discrediting Smalls and calling him “not smart, or articulate,” and also expressing the belief that Smalls could become “the face” of the organizing movement. Be cautious about what you want, Goliath!

    The tweet by Smalls posted on April 1st said, ” @amazon wanted to make me the face of the whole unionizing efforts against them …. welp there you go!”

    In the same way, as Smalls stated when he spoke to Breitbart News in May 2020, Amazon fired him from his post as a supervisor in Staten Island Warehouse after he spoke out against unsafe working conditions and arranged the walkout of his colleagues in protest.

    “I'd been with the company since 2015,” Smalls stated to Breitbart News. “I was a loyal, dedicated employee — nothing more than just a father of three with a retirement date of 2053. But when they dropped the ball on our health and safety, I put my career on the line. It cost me my career, but I have no regrets.”

    In reaction to Smalls' grassroots organizing of unions, Goliath-Amazon employed every single tactic to dismantle unions. In reality, Amazon's aggressive methods against the unions drew not just criticism from union organizers, but also a formal rebuke by the NLRB. Concerning a different union election that took place in Bessemer, Alabama, last year, which Amazon was able to win, the union's head was furious about “Amazon's intimidation and interference [which] prevented workers from having a fair say in whether they wanted a union in their workplace.” The federal government accepted, and the election was repeated, with Uncle Sam supervising. While it is clear that Amazon was again victorious, the final count remains in debate.

    In any event, across the country and in states which are more accommodating to unions in comparison to Alabama, the struggle will not cease. The tension of Amazon (total market capitalization of $1.6 trillion) in contrast to its employees (median salaried employee $29,900) is bound to be captivating to anyone who is watching.

    1. Jeff Bezos makes a great bogeyman.

    As we've pointed out in this article from Breitbart News, the wealthy have, most of the time throughout U.S. history, been excellent targets. From an economic point of view, it's best to keep those who are wealthy on the opposite side.

    The person to put it in application was Saul Alinsky, the left-wing activist of the early 20th century (who is still being studied by the left, for example in the likes of Critical Race Theory). Alinsky always advised, “Ridicule is man's most powerful weapon. You can't defend yourself. It's irrational. It's infuriating. It also serves as an important pressure point that can make the enemy concede.”

    Then we're back to Bezos, the libertarian Woke businessman who is having fun with his new girlfriend and traveling inside the space capsule he named Blue Origin.

    Chris Smalls declared, “We want to thank Jeff Bezos for going to space because while he was up there we were organizing a union.” (The truth is that Bezos is no longer the head of the company and doesn’t matter; for the duration of his life Bezos will likely be the face of the company.)

    1. With all its technological advances in a number of aspects, Amazon doesn't look that different from the mass-employers of the past. And they were also unionized, but not without a fight.

    On December 30, 1936, a total of 7000 General Motors workers staged a strike at the Fisher Body Plant No. 1, located in Flint, Michigan — and soon were joined by over 100,000 additional GM workers located across 17 factories. The process took about two months; however, the GM workers prevailed, and they were represented by their union.

    Today, Amazon has an estimated 1.6 million employees and unspecified numbers of contractors and gig-workers. They operate out of the 305 U.S. “fulfillment centers” (that's corporate-speak that has been spun up to mean “warehouse”) and more than 1100 distribution centers. There are a lot of battles and flashpoints across the United States.

    In reality, when one looks at different “tech companies,” we recognize that, while they have a lot of high-tech, in the same way they rely on traditional cheap gig labor. The companies that fall under this category comprise: Uber, Lyft, DoorDash, Postmates, and Fiverr Collectively, all gig-working companies that employ an astounding 59 million Americans which is more than three-quarters of the nation's workforce. In addition, there's a lot to praise about the concept of gig-work with regards to flexibility as well as potential; however, in the same way, there's much to be said about making sure that everyone has the opportunity to get a fair salary.

    1. The political landscape of unionization is evolving.

    As we've observed, the Democrats were historically the place of organized labor, regardless of the fact that Republicans typically had their fair proportion of workers as well as blue collar workers. But, as the Democrats have alienated many people on issues of culture and social issues, the GOP is now stepping up to better represent people in all areas, including economic areas. In particular, Donald Trump won the election of 2016 largely because of immigration and trade issues, as Trump was a champion of the interests of workers far better than union leaders. In the last few months, senator. Marco Rubio (R-FL) has declared his support for Amazon unions.

    In the same way, the relationship between the Republican Party and business is in a rough spot. This is a well-known issue for Breitbart News readers, but, now, it seems that the Mainstream Media are catching on and resulting on April 4, a story on Bloomberg News: “Big Business and Conservatives Are Headed for Divorce.” The article quoted author and Marine J.D. Vance, who is running for Republican nominee for U.S. Senate from Ohio, said that the former GOP model, in its waning days has caused a myriad of problems which included “the rise of China” and “the decimation of the American family.”

    Meanwhile, a lot of Democrats have, as we are aware, become more Woke. While this means that corporations have moved to the left over issues of culture, it has also resulted in a number of Democrats being pushed to the right on economic issues, which is in line with the corporate agenda.

    To put it another way, business is content to finance, or even lead, whatever new popular cause pops up and is asking one thing to return the favor: Democrats to de-emphasize, or even give up their traditional class-based political system. This tactic has been successful in that Woke corporate bosses collaborate effortlessly with corporate employees and their allies typically at the white collar level — to promote the cause of, say, Critical Race Theory. For businesses, it's way cheaper to recruit some flashy diversification “experts” than it is paying higher wages to the employees who do the actual job.

    According to two sane academics, Matt Grossman and David Hopkins, “Today's liberal activists are both more comfortable working within ‘establishment' networks and more likely to prioritize cultural over economic objectives.” Therefore, it's a good idea to hire white collar diversitarians and they'll give security while outsourcing its production.

    Indeed on April 7, a website that supports labor, The Lever, accused the Biden administration of sabotaging Amazon:

    Biden has also refused to make use of his executive authority to stop federal contracts for Amazon during its union-busting campaigns. In reality, Amazon was awarded the contract worth $10 billion during the summer in the months following Biden's promise during the campaign that he would “ensure federal contracts only go to employers who sign neutrality agreements committing not to run anti-union campaigns.”

    Maybe Biden was in the ad-libbing business before that labor-based audience.

    However, the workers will observe who really walks with them, and who simply speaks well. That's why, for instance, Smalls dismissed the importance that Rep. Alexandria OcasioCortez (D-NY) -she represents a lot of Amazon blue collar workers even though she travels the country in search of the latest trends in politics and more lucrative wages — when she attempted to claim the credit for the Amazon union's win.

    Here's the irresistible Smalls on  AOC: “Hell no, she don't deserve this moment!”

    On the other hand, Republicans are still thinking about the role that should be played by labor, which includes organized labor. As the author has said, unions are a necessary element in establishing people of the middle classes, which makes them a strong bulwark against the Woke. It's not just those with a surplus that are able to spare the time or the resources to keep tabs on what's going on in their children’s schools, and attend school board meetings and scream like hell.

    In the meantime, the research institute American Compass has released an ebook entitled A Seat at the Table: A Conservative Future of the American Labor Movement, in which 10 right-of-center writers make the argument that union workers should be included. This argument was presented by, for instance, Franklin D. Roosevelt who brought America to the heights of the world's power during 1945 after we were victorious in World War II: a strong workforce and factories translate into a strong military, and an enduring country.

    That's why we should set a focus today: to build an efficient workforce that is able to make things, with all the power we require, right there in the USA. While at the same time is building strong families and communities.

    A vision like this is a clear winner in politics even though it's currently deemed politically incorrect. It's a good thing that FDR-style Democrats were never concerned about the political correctness of their views and, in the present, Republicans shouldn't be. Why? Because the group that communicates for the majority cannot be defeated.

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