Progressive Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez told Amazon’s first union workers in New York on Sunday that their victory was “the first domino to fall” in what she expected to be a wave of similar votes for representation at across the country.
The left-leaning Democrat joined Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders on stage in Staten Island to celebrate the historic feat and call on workers at more Amazon facilities across the United States to follow their lead.
“What happened here…what you guys did on Staten Island was just the beginning. It was the first domino to fall,” she said, noting that workers at a second Amazon sorting facility in the New York borough were vote monday.
“We have another election tomorrow, and we will support them in this process. And the day after, and the day after, until the end. But what we need Amazon to do above all else is recognize the union that won its election.
Amazon has so far refused to recognize the vote at its Staten Island fulfillment center, after being accused of intimidating and harassing workers during the campaign with anti-union messages, and spending millions of dollars to attempt to defeat the vote.
Immediately after the result, Amazon, owned by the world’s second richest man, Jeff Bezos, whose personal wealth is estimated by Forbes at $170 billionwent to court to try to have the result overturned.
“First and foremost, Amazon, Jeff Bezos, everyone, we have to recognize the fact that they did this thing, and they won a fair and square union election,” Ocasio-Cortez said.
“You have to treat our people well. You can give our workers a bathroom break, you can make sure you’re treating people well and providing them with solid health care benefits, and that they don’t have a three-hour commute to work and back, that they can afford a house that they can live in, that people aren’t going to sleep in their car to work for Amazon.
“This is all indignity and injustice and it has no place in New York and we are going to change that, and right here our workers here are going to change that.”
Sanders was equally scathing about Amazon’s treatment of workers. “When you have a business that makes huge profits, you know what, you can pay your workers good wages, provide good benefits and you can have decent working conditions, not what you have now,” did he declare.
Speaking to Chris Smalls, the labor organizer behind the successful vote in New York, and other activists present, Sanders added: “You may not know this, but you were a source inspiration for millions of workers across the country, who have watched you. and said, ‘those guys from Staten Island stood up against an extraordinarily powerful corporation. If they can do it on Staten Island, we can do it all over the country.”
Sanders also fired on centrist Democratic Senators Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who he says are “sabotaging” the American working class with their opposition to Joe Biden’s social reform agenda.
Although he didn’t mention them by name, it was clear he was attacking the two Democrats whose opposition to Biden’s Build Back Better social spending, welfare and climate action package was blocking his passage through Congress.
“To get it through we need at least 50 Democrats who are going to stand up with the working class of this country, we don’t have that,” he said.
“We have a few people who are busy sabotaging the working class agenda.”