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Jennifer Bates was among the group of warehouse workers who initiated the process of forming a union at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama. Now, nearly a year later, Jennifer has testified in front of Congress and become one of the faces of the historic Amazon union drive that is currently underway. In the latest installment of our special series “Battleground Bessemer,” TRNN Editor-in-Chief Maximillian Alvarez sits down with Bates at the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Mid-South Council headquarters in Birmingham, Alabama. Alvarez and Bates discuss the tireless efforts by workers and RWDSU organizers to make the union vote a success, to combat Amazon’s constant union-busting efforts, and to spread the word to workers around the world that it’s time “to stand up and stand out.”

To see more of our in-depth coverage of the historic Amazon union drive in Bessemer, which we’ll be bringing you throughout the month of March, subscribe to our YouTube and podcast channels, and visit the “Battleground Bessemer” series page on our website.  

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Ten years ago, I was working 12-hour days as a warehouse temp in Southern California while my family, like millions of others, struggled to stay afloat in the wake of the Great Recession. Eventually, we lost everything, including the house I grew up in. It was in the years that followed, when hope seemed irrevocably lost and help from above seemed impossibly absent, that I realized the life-saving importance of everyday workers coming together, sharing our stories, showing our scars, and reminding one another that we are not alone. Since then, from starting the podcast Working People—where I interview workers about their lives, jobs, dreams, and struggles—to working as Associate Editor at the Chronicle Review and now as Editor-in-Chief at The Real News Network, I have dedicated my life to lifting up the voices and honoring the humanity of our fellow workers.
Follow: @maximillian_alv