Bessemer Amazon workers: ‘They are showing the way’

Joan Hwang

The following remarks were given by Joan Hwang (she/they), an organizer with the Workers Assembly Against Racism, at a Feb. 20 rally in Manhattan, N.Y., in solidarity with Amazon workers organizing a union drive in Bessemer, Ala. Hwang is also an urban farmer.  

We are out here today in the capital of capitalism, the belly of the beast, New York City, in spite of the many serious challenges we are faced with. Or maybe because of them. These are intensely difficult times we are living in.  The end days of capitalism are not pretty or easy. 

Right now millions of people across this country are suffering — left without power, heat, shelter, water — in the richest nation in the history of the world. Of course, this is disproportionately affecting vulnerable communities who have always borne the brunt of the crises wrought by capitalism: our Black, Brown, Indigenous, homeless and incarcerated family. It’s clearer now than ever before that we’re living under a state incapable of providing its people anything but violence and war.

And yet, in the midst of the pain and trauma, we find reason for hope in this historic union organizing drive. 

Now, I believe that the workers in Bessemer are in it to win it. And when they do, it will be a triumphant day for workers everywhere. But it’s bigger than just winning the vote. The fact that they have undertaken this struggle, have come this far along, and continue every day to battle against this behemoth — arguably the most powerful transnational corporation in the world and the face of modern capitalism — is a FEAT IN AND OF ITSELF.

This month is Black History Month, and Black workers in Alabama are making history right NOW, taking on the world’s biggest corporate monster. In keeping with history, the overlooked and undervalued but indispensable leadership of Black women is the force driving this critical struggle forward. 

All workers have so much to learn from Black history about hundreds of years of resistance. We can support resistance TODAY by supporting the Bessemer Amazon workers! They are showing the way, and we must follow their lead. If these most oppressed workers, against all odds in the deepest anti-union atmosphere, can organize, because it is what must be done, we have no excuse not to do the same. 

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