Activists in Newark shouted “People’s needs, not corporate greed!” as they marched down Broad Street on Saturday to show support for Amazon workers’ push to unionize in Alabama.
“The success in Alabama can lead to success in other Amazon plants,” said People’s Organization for Progress Vice Chair Larry Adams, who is also a former president of a local unit of the National Postal Mail Handlers union.
The unionization effort from Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, more the 900 miles away from Newark, is one of the largest the corporate giant has been faced with since its creation. Groups around the nation have shown their support for the workers there too.
Amazon did not respond to a request for comment when reached by NJ Advance Media.
About 15 people marched in the rain during the rally organized by People’s Organization for Progress, a grassroots civil rights group. They started from the Lincoln statue at the Essex County Historic Courthouse to Whole Foods, which is owned by Amazon, in downtown Newark.
Workers at the Whole Foods on Broad Street and others across the nation are not unionized. Activists on Saturday marched outside the business to show their support for the workers there should they want to unionize.
Activists said they wanted to march in solidarity with the workers in Alabama because they come from similar backgrounds as people in Newark. Many of the warehouse workers in Bessemer are Black, and Newark is a majority Black city.
People’s Organization for Progress Chairman Larry Hamm said organized labor is necessary to preserve and strengthen the middle class in the United States, which a January 2020 Pew Research report found is losing ground financially.
“If we are to hold onto and improve the quality of life we have in the United States, labor must be organized,” Hamm said. “And when labor gets higher wages, it raises all groups.”
Hamm, a former candidate for U.S. Senate, pushed for Congress to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour. Amazon already pays its workers $15 an hour.
Nearly three years ago, Newark officials offered a $2 billion tax incentive to Amazon to move its second corporate headquarters to the city. The company ultimately did not select Newark.
Hali Cooper, of Englewood, marched in the wet weather Saturday with a cast on one foot. She wasn’t familiar with the exact details of Newark’s incentive to Amazon, but didn’t believe the company should get tax breaks while its workers struggle and Jeff Bezos, its CEO, is still a billionaire.
“The rich is getting richer and the poor is getting poorer,” Cooper said.
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Rebecca Panico may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.