President Joe Biden is considering inviting union activists from Amazon and Starbucks to the White House sources told The Washington Post on Saturday.
The Post said four sources confirmed talks between the White House and workers spearheading union drives at the two major retailers coming to the White House are taking place.
“This is a sea change, not only from the Republican administrations, but even from [former Democrat President Barack) Obama and [former President Bill] Clinton, who were reluctant to openly embrace unions,” Dean Baker, the senior economist at the Center for Economic and Policy Research, a left-leaning think tank told the Post. “This is, head-on: We’re on the side of workers trying to organize and get people better conditions. They want people to see they’re on the side of union workers.”
Although Biden has claimed to be the most pro-union president in history, and recently said, “By the way, Amazon, here we come. Watch,” his administration has been very careful to keep its distance as advocates pushed for votes at those companies.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki later pulled back on Biden’s comment.
“[Biden’s remarks were not] sending a message that he or the U.S. government would be directly involved in any of these efforts or take any direct action,” Psaki said, the Post reported.
The talks of a visit come a few days following Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., attending a union rally with Amazon workers ion New York City where he called on Biden to invite representatives to the White House, Truthout.org reported this week.
“To his credit, Biden has talked more about unions than any other president in my lifetime, but talk is not enough,” Sanders told the crowd. “What he has got to do is start inviting these guys to the White House. He’s got to invite the Starbucks workers to the White House, the other unions that are organizing all over this country, and make it clear that he is on their side and that he is going to do what he can to support labor organizing throughout this country.”
One Amazon warehouse in Staten Island, New York, led by worker Chris Smalls, voted to form a union in March, and smalls is now talking with 50 other Amazon facilities nationwide, CNN reported last month.
Seventeen Starbucks locations, including Boston and Seattle, also voted to join the Starbucks Workers United union, with 100 more locations filing to hold union elections at their sites.
“I think what we did … is a catalyst for a revolution with Amazon workers, just like the Starbucks unionizing effort,” Smalls told CNN+ before it shut down. “We want to have the same domino effect.”
Starbucks has 235,000 workers at 9,000 stores throughout the country, where Amazon has 1.1 million employees, according to the report.
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