President Joe Biden issued a big warning to Amazon during a speech to labor unions on Wednesday, telling the shipping giant: “Here we come.”
Days earlier, workers at its Staten Island, New York, warehouse held a historic vote to create the company’s first labor union even despite reported crackdowns on such discussions.
During his address to the 2022 North American Construction Workers Union (NABTU) Legislative Conference, Biden also reiterated his pledge to “unify” the country — though he admitted that the hard work sometimes made him “grumpy.”
The president even brought back his trademark whisper when he touted the 320,000 new construction jobs he said came from the American Rescue Plan, an economic package meant to ease the economic burden of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Laying a strong foundation for the future of this country is about more than having strong roads and bridges, ports and airports that can rival any country in the world. It’s also about making sure that here in America, the people who work hard and live their lives, have a chance to live it with dignity and respect. This is what unions are all about, Biden told the rally of union workers and their representatives.
“That’s why I created a White House task force on worker organizing and empowerment, to make sure the choice to unionize is up to the workers alone.”
Then he leaned close to the microphone to add: “And by the way — Amazon, here we go.”
President Biden has expressed strong support for unions and even found time to address former President Donald Trump in his address to the 2022 North American Construction Workers Union (NABTU) Legislative Conference.
DailyMail.com has reached out to Amazon for comment, but did not immediately receive a response.
One of the company’s executives, senior vice president for politics and journalism Jay Carney, previously worked for Biden as director of communications in the Obama administration.
The White House walked back Biden’s comments after the event, stating that the president would not “engage in any direct effort” to force Amazon to unite.
“What he didn’t do was send a message that he or the US government would be directly involved in any of these efforts or would take any direct action,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said during her press briefing on Wednesday.
What he was conveying was that—his longstanding support for collective bargaining, for workers’ rights to organize, and their decision to do exactly that in this case—something he has supported widely throughout his career.”
At one point during his speech, Biden shared praise for the Secretary of Labor, former Boston Mayor Marty Walsh.
The President appeared to add a stereotypical Boston terring, pronouncing the Cabinet official’s first name as “Mahti”.
He also had time to goad his rival, former President Donald Trump, over Republican tax cuts for wealthy Americans and corporations.
That two trillion dollar tax lowered the last man—what was his name—anyway, the last man. I forget it, he never showed up for the inauguration,” Biden quipped as the audience laughed in response.
“That’s why I created a White House task force on organizing and empowering workers, to make sure that the choice to unionize belongs to workers alone,” Biden said, adding: “And by the way — Amazon, here we come.” (Pictured): union organizer Christian Smalls (right, red tracksuit) celebrates after workers at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse voted to unionize)
The White House later retracted Biden’s comments, reiterating that he would not be involved in any direct effort to force the shipping giant to accept unions.
Near the end of his roughly 30-minute remarks, Biden reminded the crowd why he ran for president in the first place — reiterating his promise to “restore the soul of this country” and “rebuild the backbone of America, which is the middle class and working people.”
And three – to try to unite the country. Biden admitted that this has been the hardest thing yet, and it’s no joke.
But we’ll get there because you can’t have a democratic job unless you can generate consensus. You finally have to unite, as angry as I feel sometimes.
Biden’s speech came just days after workers at Amazon’s Staten Island warehouse voted in favor of forming the company’s first-ever union, following a grassroots campaign by current and former employees.
The final count was 2,654 pro-regulation votes to 2,131, a sign of the complex union-busting tactics the shipping giant has taken to fight the movement.
This included forcing employees to attend mandatory meetings during which they were severely discouraged from participating in what they described as a “third party”.
Warehouse workers in New York City will now be represented by the Amazon Workers Union, formed by fired Amazon worker Christian Smalls.
Smalls, a former supervisor at the facility, was let go after he fired an employee in protest of the company’s lack of health protection measures during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company said Smalls violated the company’s own protocols by coming to work to strike when he was told to quarantine due to close exposure.
After his removal from office, Smalls formed the Amazon Workers Union, which is not affiliated with any major trade organizations or national unions in the country.
A similar vote to unionize failed in Amazon’s Bessemer area, and the Alabama facility was too close to call it late last month.
The ballots were cast in a postponement election after the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Amazon had interfered in a failed union vote there last year.