In a remarkable video statement supporting the right of workers to join unions, recorded on February 28, President Biden has completely upended not only his predecessor but almost every president over the last century. The statement was released as nearly 6,000 workers at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama are voting in a union representation election.
“I have long said that America wasn’t built by Wall Street; it was built by the middle class…and unions built the middle class. Unions put power in the hands of workers. They level the playing field,” Biden said in the opening to his two-minute statement. “They give you a stronger voice for your health, your safety, higher wages, protection from racial discrimination and sexual harassment. Unions lift up workers, both union and non-union and especially black and brown workers.”
The statement asserted that the National Labor Relations Act is about encouraging unions, not just tolerating them. “Every worker should have a free and fair choice to join a union. The law guarantees that choice. And it’s your right, not that of an employer, it’s your right. No employer can take that right away.”
In response, Local 853 Principal Officer Rome Aloise stated in a letter to Biden, “For the last 46 years I have been organizing and negotiating for workers and union members, and your video—the frankness, the honesty, the total commitment and sincerity of your words, actually brought tears to my eyes. I never thought I would see a President of the United States make such a bold and honest statement to workers about the value of union representation.”
He continued: “Hopefully, with the help of changes in the antiquated labor laws that now govern union organizing and negotiations, and with leadership like yours, we can begin to bring back the middle class, assist the underprivileged and forgotten in our society, and end the cycle of poverty that can only be solved by good-paying, decently-benefited jobs, with pensions that allow workers to retire in dignity.”
Closing out, Aloise said, “I want to thank you on behalf of my members and especially from an old organizer that has been given hope for the future!”