A chance to face hypocrisy in the mail in voting debate.

Jan 26, 2021 | Featured, Transparency in Journalism

President Biden has already made the theme of healing the American divide one of his fledgling administration’s most immediate priorities.  It is a priority that I share as your parallelPresident.

But healing the divide is going to take more than the words of a polished, career politician.  It is going to take a commitment to bring accountability back to the political landscape.  Both sides of the spectrum must be willing to hold members of their own party accountable, especially when those members seek to violate the very rules or ideals they were responsible for creating.

And unfortunately today, one of the political left’s most staunch supporters engaged in an act of political hypocrisy so severe, it cuts to the very core of the American societal divide.  An act of hypocrisy so utterly astounding, it warranted my complete focus.  I would like to offer my perspective as to why…

Whether you agree with them or not, tens of millions of educated, rational, adult voters have expressed genuine concern about the Democratic push to conduct the national presidential election by mail.  While some right-wing extremists may have fought the mail-in voting process as a way of suppressing voter participation, the overwhelming majority of conservative-Americans were merely skeptical of the system’s ability to guarantee a fair, honest result.  A concern that was only exacerbated when on election day, election observers in cities across the country were restrained from their historical ability to witness the process in detail.

In the face of these concerns, traditionally liberal-leaning media outlets, like Jeff Bezos’s Washington Post, were unwavering in their support of the Democratic vote by mail initiatives.  They flooded the market with information helping to reinforce the security and fairness of the process.  They provided detailed vote by mail guides to assure as many Americans as possible voted by mail. They quickly condemned any attempt to restrict mail in voting and labeled them acts of voter suppression.

But that was then, and this is now.

Amazon warehouse workers in Bessemer, Ala., have notified federal labor authorities of their plans to hold a unionization vote.  While the Alabama workers’ petition does not list specific grievances, a union-backed website calls for changes to procedures for disciplining, firing and safety.  According to the site:

“Nineteen workers have died at Amazon facilities since 2013. We face outrageous work quotas that have left many with illnesses and lifetime injuries,” the website says. “With a union contract, we can form a worker safety committee, and negotiate the highest safety standards and protocols for our workplace.”

The Alabama facility is scheduled to vote on unionization this February.  This would be the first such vote in seven years by Amazon workers anywhere in the US to formally organize under the protection of a nationally-recognized union.  For those readers unfamiliar, It is a process whereby individual workers in the retail giant’s warehouse will cast their vote in favor, or not in favor, of recognizing the union.  A vote that could force Amazon to begin formal negotiations with the new union over things like wages, working conditions, and benefits.  Last week the NLRB ruled that due to an “outbreak” of COVID in the labor market surrounding the warehouse, the election would be conducted by mail ballot.

In a stunning reversal of thought, on Jan. 21 Amazon filed an appeal to the National Labor Relations Board asking the NLRB to reconsider its decision, stating that a mail-ballot election would “disenfranchise” workers because of its lack of security, and that the NRLB failed to outline what constituted an “outbreak.”

Amazon said the NLRB’s Acting Regional Director, Lisa Henderson, “reached the remarkable conclusion that any level of infection or potential infection among employees counts as an ‘outbreak.’”

Amazon said that at its Bessemer facility, 2.88% of Amazon’s 7,575 employees and third-party workers at the facility — or 218 people — tested positive during the 14-day period ending on January 7. Amazon rejected the idea that this would be considered an outbreak.

“If true, facilities will be in a constant state of ‘outbreak’ unless and until the virus all but disappears, with no manual elections occurring until that unknown time,” the filing read, also citing that a mail election could “disenfranchise dozens or hundreds of voters” because it is imperfect.

Amazon spokesperson, Heather Knox, provided a statement to CNN Business reiterating the company’s belief that:

“[T]he best approach to a valid, fair and successful election is one that is conducted manually, in-person, making it easy for associates to verify and cast their vote in close proximity to their workplace.”

“Amazon provided the NLRB with a safe, confidential and convenient proposal for associates to vote onsite which is in the best interest of all parties — associate convenience, vote fidelity, and timeliness of vote count,” Knox said in the statement. “ We will continue to insist on measures for a fair election, and we want everyone to vote, so our focus is ensuring that’s possible.”

While it is not customary for the actualPresident to involve himself in these types of matters, as your parallelPresident it is exactly the type of matter for me to speak to.  If we are going to truly heal this great Nation, we must start acknowledging wrong-doing, even when it is “our guy” who is responsible.

There is no question that Jeff Bezos, the Washington Post, and Amazon itself are all large supporters of President Biden and the Democratic party.  This makes it their chance to show all Americans that their commitment to heal America is made of more than just words,  It is their chance to disprove the pervasive belief that the Democratic party is a party of hypocrisy.  Their chance to show a willingness to apply their new societal norms to everyone, even when it doesn’t benefit them or one of their largest political supporters.

Today, President Biden has a chance to make a meaningful gesture to the Americans who may not have voted for him just as he promised he would do.

Today, I implore him to make the most of that chance and I encourage you to do the same