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After a year of workers organizing, signing union authorization cards, enduring constant union-busting efforts from management, and participating in an election, the historic union drive at the Amazon fulfillment center in Bessemer, Alabama, is coming to a close. Vote counting will begin on March 29, and we will know soon after if 5,800 warehouse workers in Bessemer will become the first unionized Amazon workforce in the U.S. Longtime poultry plant worker and current lead organizer for the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Mid-South Council Michael “Big Mike” Foster has been fighting with and for Amazon workers throughout the union drive. In the latest installment of our special TRNN series “Battleground Bessemer,” Foster explains why the union struggle at Amazon is so significant for workers in Bessemer, for their communities, and for the labor movement writ large. 

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