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White House to host union organizers representing Amazon, Starbucks staff

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U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will host a White House meeting with organizers from unions searching for to represent staff at Amazon.com, Starbucks and other employers.

Kent Nishimura | Los Angeles Times | Getty Images

U.S. Vice President Kamala Harris will host a White House meeting on Thursday with organizers from unions searching for to represent staff at Amazon.com, Starbucks and other employers.

The meeting will include Christian Smalls, who heads the Amazon Labor Union, and other grassroots organizers from Starbucks, United Paizo Staff, Baltimore Public Library, and a union that has organized staff at an outlet of REI, the outdoor goods retailer, a White House official said.

The meeting is to debate “their extraordinary efforts to prepare unions of their workplaces, and the way their efforts can encourage staff across the country to make the alternative to hitch or organize a union,” the official added.

Staff at greater than 50 U.S. Starbucks cafes have elected to hitch the Staff United union, while five stores voted against the union, out of roughly 240 altogether which have sought to carry elections since August. Starbucks told investors on Tuesday it’ll invest $1 billion in employees on this fiscal yr and said by this summer its average U.S. pay will likely be $17 an hour, with starting wages to range from $15 to $23.

The U.S. Senate Budget Committee will hold a hearing Thursday on Amazon’s labor practices with Smalls, in addition to Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien and Greg LeRoy, executive director of Good Jobs First.

Last month, President Joe Biden drew loud applause at a labor event when he turned a highlight on Amazon.

After highlighting a government task force on employee organization he launched a yr ago “to be certain that the alternative to hitch a union belongs to staff alone,” Biden called out Amazon.

“And by the way in which, by the way in which, Amazon here we come. Watch. Watch,” Biden said.

Widely considered essentially the most pro-union president in many years, Biden has swiftly ousted government officials deemed by unions to be hostile to labor and reversed rules of past President Donald Trump that critics said weakened employee protections.

Last week, U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders urged Biden to issue an executive order cutting off federal contracts to Amazon, saying the web retailer “has turn out to be the poster child for illegal anti-union behavior while raking in billions in federal contracts.” 

Staff at an Amazon warehouse in Latest York City recently voted to form the primary union on the second-largest U.S. private employer and join the Amazon Labor Union under the leadership of Smalls, a former employee who has argued for higher pay and job security.

Amazon objected and accused the union of threatening staff unless they voted to prepare, an allegation denied by the labor group.

Individually, Amazon staff voted against unionizing a second warehouse in Latest York City, a ballot count on Monday showed, representing a defeat for labor organizers.

Amazon and Starbucks didn’t immediately reply to requests for comment.

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