US Vice President Kamala Harris will host a White House meeting with union organizers seeking to represent workers at Amazon, Starbucks, and other companies.
Christian Smalls, the president of the Amazon Labor Union, will be in attendance, as will grassroots organizers from Starbucks/SEIU, United Paizo Workers/CWA, Baltimore Public Library/IAM, and a union that has organized workers at an REI store.
The meeting today (Thursday, May 5) is to discuss “their extraordinary efforts to organize unions in their workplaces, and how their efforts can inspire workers across the country to make a choice to join or organize a union,”
Workers at more than 50 Starbucks cafes in the United States have voted to join the Workers United union, while five stores voted against the union, out of roughly 240 that have attempted to hold elections since August.
Starbucks announced to investors on May 3 that it will invest $1 billion in employees this fiscal year and that by the summer, its average U.S. pay will be $17 an hour, with starting wages ranging from $15 to $23.
The United States Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing on Amazon’s labor practices on Thursday, which will include Smalls, Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien, and Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First.
Last month, President Joe Biden drew loud applause at a labor event when he turned a spotlight on Amazon.
After highlighting a government task force on worker organization, he launched a year ago “to make sure the choice to join a union belongs to workers alone,” Biden called out Amazon.
Biden said: “And by the way, by the way, Amazon here we come. Watch. Watch,”
Widely regarded as the most pro-labor president in decades, Biden has swiftly removed government officials deemed hostile to labor by unions and reversed rules enacted by former President Donald Trump that critics said weakened worker protections.
Last week, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders urged Biden to issue an executive order cutting off federal contracts to Amazon, saying the online retailer “has become the poster child for illegal anti-union behavior while raking in billions in federal contracts.
Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York City recently voted to form the first union at the second-largest private employer in the United States and join the Amazon Labor Union led by Smalls, a former worker who has advocated for higher pay and job security.