This open letter from Business Manager Erikson to Amazon workers in Bessemer was sent in recent weeks to Stuart Appelbaum, President of RWDSU and its leadership and relayed to the workers.
On behalf of the Officers and the 28,000 members of Local 3 IBEW in New York City, I extend our best wishes and support for your effort to organize. The RWDSU and its leadership has always fought the good fight for many workers who have been left behind. We know the pressure you are under and that your non-union job is what provides you the ability to feed your families, and that the fear of losing that job if you vote to unionize will make some run scared. I’ve heard that they are trying to discourage you by claiming you will have to pay dues. You live in a country, you pay taxes, you get services. You're in a union, you pay dues, you get benefits and representation. I have paid dues for 46 years. I have also been fortunate to send my children to college, own a home, had medical coverage that paid for bills that would have bankrupted a family without it, and I will retire with dignity having secured pensions that will sustain my wife and me in our retirement. Every blessing I have is because I was a member of my union.
The Labor Movement has always been the path to the middle class. Working for Walmart wages in right-to-work states with no medical coverage or a pension to provide security in retirement has got to be unbearable. Your fight gives others hope. It has been a long time since the Labor Movement has so fully supported an organizing campaign in the South. I’m talking about the boycotts and strike at J.P. Stephens in the late 1970s. We marched here in New York City on their corporate headquarters and stood in solidarity with those brave working men and women and they were successful in their fight. I urge you and your brothers and sisters now not to blink. Your employer has money to burn to discourage your efforts. Your strength is in your unity, labor is not a commodity, and it is time to change the direction of how America’s workers have been taken advantage of by unscrupulous employers for way too long. God Speed.
Business Manager, Local 3 IBEW
Voting in Bessemer ends today and ballots will be counted this week. If successful, workers in Bessemer would become the first union employees at Amazon in the United States.