In hindsight, the biggest warning sign for the prospects of unionizing Amazon‘s Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse was, well, a sign: a large placard, posted by organizers outside the facility’s entrance, featuring Stacey Abrams dressed as Rosie the Riveter, declaring “We Can Do It!” through a COVID mask.

Adopting the failed gubernatorial candidate and progressive darling as the symbolic heroine of the campaign was part of an effort to link unionization to progressive causes—voting rights, racial justice and gender equity—that organizers thought would appeal to a predominantly Black workforce.

Stacey the Riveter” may have been a hit with Democratic politicians, who posed for pictures with the sign on visits to the facility. But not so much with the workers themselves. Abrams lost her election by 2 points; the union lost its by more than 30.

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Wells King
Wells King is the former research director at American Compass.
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