DMO Statement on Bessemer, AL Unionization Efforts
Democratic Municipal Officials (DMO) strongly supports the right of all workers to organize and collectively bargain with their employers. DMO joins other Democratic leaders across the nation in commending Amazon employees in Alabama for working to win union representation there.
“The union representation vote going on now in Bessemer, Alabama, has unusual national significance,” said DMO President Derek Green (Philadelphia, PA City Council Member). “As we begin to emerge from the COVID pandemic, we find that rapid growth of the home deliveries industry has made it an important new frontier for the protection of workers’ health, safety, and economic security. The strong organizing work in Bessemer also boosts hope for an improving labor climate in states that have historically not been friendly to workers’ rights.”
The DMO Alabama State Chapter chair confirmed the importance of this effort in his home community. Bessemer City Council Member Jesse Matthews has been DMO’s “source on the ground” for developments in Alabama. Workers at the local Amazon regional fulfillment center are voting now until March 29 on whether to approve the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) as their bargaining agent.
“It is important for our community to have workers’ voices heard in dealing with issues like workplace safety and job security. Union representation and the collective bargaining process help ensure that concerns are addressed in ways that benefit workers, employers, and our community as a whole,” says Council Member Matthews, a key longtime DMO leader. Council Member Matthews represents Council District 6 in the City of Bessemer, which is also the physical location of the Amazon distribution center there.
“We at DMO will continue to closely follow these historic developments in Bessemer,” said DMO Labor Council Chair Angela Rogensues (Warren, MI City Council Member). “We wish the organizing workers there great success, and we look forward to supporting the workers and Amazon in reaching a fair and just agreement afterwards.”
ADDITIONAL BACKGROUND, BESSEMER, AL CITY COUNCIL MEMBER JESSE MATTHEWS:
Council Member Matthews is the President Pro Tem of the Bessemer City Council, a former member of the Board of Directors of the National League of Cities, a member of the Executive Committee of the Alabama League of Municipalities, and a member of the National Black Caucus of Local Elected Officials, as well as a past Chair of the Alabama League of Municipalities. In his professional career, Council Member Matthews is a 36-year member of IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers), and is a strong supporter of workers’ rights to organize and collectively bargain. Council Member Matthews in his role as a local elected official was invited by Amazon local representatives to hear and discuss their perspective and concerns. He reports a cordial and frank conversation at the meeting.