President Biden, Vice President Kamala Harris, and Secretary of Labor Martin J. Walsh met Thursday in the White House with several union organizers involved in successful campaigns at companies, including Amazon Other Starbucks.
The meeting was intended to discuss how recent organizational successes can inspire other workers to join or form a union, according to the White House.
Alex Speidel, employee and union manager at Paizoan RPG publisher in the Seattle area said administration officials “were interested in how we had succeeded: what things we had done to motivate people without union history in their families, early members to the union. “
A high-profile event at the White House focusing primarily on grassroots union members and grassroots organizers is unusual for a president of either party. But a task force on workers’ organization led by Ms. Harris, which officially organized the meeting on Thursday, met on several occasions with workers outside the White House and union grassroots members attended White House events under Mr. Biden. There were also White House meetings with union leaders and senior labor officials.
Christian Smalls, president of the Amazon Labor Union, asked Mr. Biden to pressure Amazon’s leadership to recognize the union and initiate collective bargaining, and Mr. Biden expressed general support in response, according to Mr. Speidel and a other participant, Jaimie Caldwell, librarian at the Baltimore County Public Library in Maryland.
A White House spokesperson said it is up to the National Labor Relations Board, an independent agency, to certify trade unions. She also indicated previous remarks by Jen Psaki, White House press officer, noting that President Biden is a longtime advocate of “collective bargaining, workers’ rights to organize, and their decision to do exactly that” in the case of Amazon.
The meeting comes at a time when union organizers have won several high-profile elections, including more than 50 at Starbucks headquarters and in the Staten Island warehouse where Mr. Smalls led a unionization effort.
In addition to union leaders and workers from Amazon, Starbucks, Paizo, and the Baltimore County Public Library, the meeting was attended by workers from the REI outdoor clothing retailer and the animation production company Titmouse.
Labor leaders often describe Mr. Biden as the greatest pro-Labor president of their lifeindicating his replacement of government officials he didn’t like them with those most in solidarity with the trade unions and with the unraveling the rules of the Trump era which has weakened the protection of workers.
During a high-profile union campaign on Amazon last year, Mr. Biden put on guard that “there should be no intimidation, coercion, threats, anti-union propaganda”, and thereafter criticized Kellogg for his plans to permanently replace striking workers during a labor dispute. Both were unusual interjections from an incumbent president.