WASHINGTON – Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders took Amazon’s role in parliament on Thursday, criticizing the online leader for fighting unions and questioning whether the federal government should continue to contract with the multi-billion dollar company.
Amazon executives did not attend the meeting but U.S. senators heard from trade unions and the U.S. Government Accountability Office.
Sanders, who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, used the panel’s broad mandate to highlight Amazon’s high sales volume in its nationwide warehouses, the National Labor Relations Board’s decision against the company for anti-corruption activities. alliance with “inadequate” workplace safety policies.
“I think taxpayers in this country want to know that when their tax dollars go into contracts with companies, that those companies obey the law,” Sanders said. “I don’t think that’s very questionable.”
Sanders, an independent man who ran for the Democratic presidency in 2016 and again 2020, called on President Joe Biden to fulfill a promise he made during his campaign to “introduce a long-term federation to all employers who illegally oppose unions” and “ensuring that federal agreements go only to employers who sign a neutral agreement agreeing not to run anti-union campaigns.
Sanders said he believes Biden is honest when it comes to making those promises, adding that “the time for negotiations is over, the time for action is now.”
Amazon employs more than 10,500 Nevadans in more than a dozen warehouses, distribution facilities, and fulfillment centers across the state, mainly in Southern Nevada.
Graham sees ‘dangerous turn’
South Carolina GOP Senator Lindsey Graham strongly disagreed with Amazon’s Sanders behavior, arguing that although the company is subject to federal laws, it should not be heard.
“This committee is taking a very dangerous course under your leadership, to be honest with you,” said Graham, the Republican head of the committee. “You choose one company because of your political agenda to partner with this country.”
Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Workers’ Union, which won a vote in Staten Island, New York, last month, criticized Graham for what he saw as being more on the employer’s side than the workers.
“It seems like you were talking more about companies and businesses in your speech, but you forgot that people are the ones who make these companies work,” Smalls said. “However we are not protected and the process of holding these companies accountable does not work for us. And that is why we are here today.”
Smalls said that union protection and workers’ security should not be a Democratic or Republican issue, but an issue that affects workers across the country.
He also criticized Amazon for working against union organizers and for not meeting with union representatives of the Staten Island warehouse at a negotiating table after workers voted to form a union.
“Organizations have control … they break the law, they win,” Smalls said.
Smalls met Biden later that afternoon, tweet “he said I got him in trouble,” before the emoji and “gooooooooooood.”
The meeting was not on Biden’s public schedule. But Vice President Kamala Harris and Labor Secretary Marty Walsh were scheduled to hold a meeting at the White House on Thursday afternoon with “local organizers to discuss their remarkable efforts to organize trade unions in their workplaces,” according to Harris.
Workers at the second Amazon warehouse on Staten Island rejected the union in a vote earlier this week.
Violators of the Service Agreement Act
Thomas Costa, director of the Education, Staff and Revenue Security branch of the State Accountability Office, testified later at the session that 622 contractors who violated the Service Agreement Act were still able to secure a $ 35 billion contract with the federal government. .
The practice deals with federal contractors who have a wage violation, or misjudge a person in a lower position, and those who deprive people of so-called benefit violations such as paid leave or vacation time.
Over the five-year period from the 2014-2019 financial year, the US Department of Labor investigated 5,000 cases and found violations of federal law in 68 percent of those cases. Employers in 94% of those cases complied with the law and paid $ 204 million in back pay. A total of 60 were detained, meaning they could not get federal contracts for three years.
Virginia Senator Tim Kaine took the approach somewhere between the positions of his two colleagues, noting that officers and residents in the Northern Virginia suburbs just outside Washington, DC, are pleased Amazon to bring 35,000 jobs to the area and its new headquarters.
Not all 1 million Amazon workers hate their jobs, said Kaine, a democrat.
But, he added, supervisors and executives should exemplify the approach to working with the unions that Cain’s father had when he was managing a steel workers’ shop.
“He just taught us to grow, trade unions and management should not fight, it should be a team,” Kaine said, adding he hoped managers and employees would aim “to be a team without owners kicking workers and without employers being deceived.”
Kaine warned management how long it takes after workers voted to form a trade union to have a contract, noting that many unions could not get a contract in the first three years “because the employer is just a wall.”
Democrats have rulesknown as the Pro Act, which could change the way the coalition process works, even though the bill does not have the necessary Republican support to pass the main character in the Senate.
Sean O’Brien, president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, told committee members that non-union companies have “greater competitive advantage” in securing federal contracts compared to unions.
He argued that Amazon employees should have the opportunity to choose the type of protection that parties other companies, like UPS, have.
“Amazon needs to be responsible,” O’Brien said. “And the way you are responsible for them is to return some of these contracts until they become a responsible employer.”