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The workers at the Amazon facility in Bessemer didn’t succeed in winning a union when all the votes were counted, but nevertheless the story has drawn attention to the company’s labor practices and the struggles of the workers in its facilities. This week, while we waited for the count, we teamed up with Steven Pitts of Organizing Upgrade’s Black Work Talk podcast to talk about the state of the Black working class. We were joined by Robin D.G. Kelley, author of many books you should read about social movements and labor history, but perhaps most importantly for this conversation, one of my all-time favorites: Hammer and Hoe: Alabama Communists During the Great Depression (the book is currently available to download for free at the publishers’ website). Kelley is also Distinguished Professor and Gary B. Nash Endowed Chair in U.S. History at UCLA, and we invited him to discuss the historical and present conditions in Bessemer.
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The Alabama Town That Could Defeat Jeff Bezos (New Republic)