Unions, Amazon, and the fight for workers in Appalachia


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Amazon hates unions, which is why they’re trying everything to stop workers in little ol’ Appalachian Alabama from forming one. But first, we have a light-hearted exchange about the double-standard applied for Lil Nas X and not Soulja Boi (tell em) by Kidz Bop Christians

Intro – Lil Nas X, Kidz Bop Christians and unions

Chuck: Lil Nas X – would you call him a rapper? Would you call him a country music star? What 

Big John: would you call them? I just call them. I just call him a star in general. He’s a 

Chuck: star. Okay. Yeah. Well he does music, 

Big John: musical star, 

Chuck: musical star. Yes. All right. Well, not as I feel like this happens every time that we record, uh, something happens and it’s like the day after we recorded the episode, but before we put it out and then we can’t talk about it till the next week.

So this is kind of old, maybe. But I’m still, it’s still out there. I’m still into it. We had talked about it. Well, not as ex you didn’t know, release video called Montero in parentheses. Call me by my name, I believe. And, um, let’s just say John, it,

people to be a little upset. Some people that maybe were mentioned in our last episode about evangelical right wing Christians, I would venture a guess. And one of the reasons why they were upset among others is in the video. There is this, I would say very tastefully done scene where he Lil NAS X brides, nay dances down a stripper pole, straight to hell.

Again, very tastefully done. Uh, but you know, the CGI was impressive. He gives, what I would say is a fairly erotic lap dance to Satan himself. And then at this point, John is ignored a lot. He kills the devil. He kills Satan breaks his fucking neck. Now one will argue, does he become Satan afterwards? We will get to talking about Amazon and unions soon.

Possibly. I don’t know the. Viewer is left to their own interpretation of that. I w you know, I’m not pissed off about it. It’s fine. If he wants to go. And if he wants to fuck the devil, that’s great. You can do whatever he wants. He’s a, he’s an American, but I mean, to get mad at him for killing Satan is kind of interesting.

Big John: Yeah. That’s um, that’s a new one for me. Uh, look, I thought about that too. And no one can prove that if you kill the devil that like it, you don’t become it. There’s, there’s no proof like maybe a little nos. We don’t, 

Chuck: he might, he very well might. Uh, and maybe it’s just, you know, maybe if he’s Satan, then he’s like a better Satan.

No different than what’s being described. And the text of the Holy book where Satan is not great, at least from what it sounds like. I don’t know. I didn’t read the Bible that well, 

Big John: I’ve seen his Yelp, but it’s not very good. The Bible. 

Chuck: No, the devil. Oh, I was going to say Bibles y’all probably would have gotten spammed pretty hard.

Big John: I just, I love this discussion because, uh, we posted on, uh, on Twitter and I think it’s, it’s so true. Like, uh, evangelical Christians, all gay guys, all gays go to hell little nos goes to hell and people get angry. He just did what 


Chuck: I know. Yeah. He’s just taking their advice and he’s like, Oh, well, Hey, it’s not that bad here.

And then they’re like, Whoa.

No. Uh, 

Big John: why are they saying, what are you from toy 

Chuck: story? I was thinking of Yosemite Sam, but maybe Woody, but then they’d go to hell because they were gay. Uh, the reason for bringing this up is because so bunch of like, right-wingers got all upset about this, right. You know, and of course they got upset about whap, what ass pussy, but what I think is funny is there so much uproar over this.

Over a little NAS X doing, do a little bit of a dance on, on old Mr. Lucifer. And it reminded me of the lack of outrage and other things that are, in my opinion, I would argue more, um, group grotesque, more objectionable I think is, is the word I’d use. And it brings me back to around 2007, John, you would have been what 15.

Big John: Uh, I would have been, yeah, well, 2007 I’d have 

Chuck: been 14. Okay. Well, spitball and arrows around probably your sophomore year of high school. My senior year, there was a song and it was called crank that, and it came out as by soldier Blake. Tell him, do you remember. Yeah. Yeah. Now I couldn’t tell you much about what that song is about, but it, it was, it was really popular as a dance to it and it made it on one of the kids’ bop albums.

And those are, you know, the, the albums where kids do remixes of really well-known songs, you know, it’s whole thing. Um, well, crank that was on there. And I think it’s funny to think about this and the context Lil NAS X, because. People were so outrageous when I was X, but they weren’t outrageous the fact that crank that was on kids, Bob.

And the reason why John is for the main hook, mainly I think, um, uh, chorus, which goes Superman, dat ho. And according to urban dictionary, which despite its name is actually quite a pretty reliable source. Superman doubt, ho. And if you’re listening to this with small children, you want to give them a couple of year muffs there.

Um, it, it is when a male climaxes or Jackie relates on a, on a female’s back or on a blanket, excuse me, and sticks it on a female’s back. Creating a Cape like Superman. So not only is it misogynistic, it’s fucking disgust, but you have like, and I think the lyrics were slightly modified for kids bop, but I don’t think they’re modified that much, but I’m just saying John, where’s the outrage for soldier, boy that is being placed on our friend and fellow Appalachian, Lil NAS X.

Big John: That’s a good point. And I had to, I had to Google this because I couldn’t remember it. But do you remember the song thrift shop by Macklemore? Yeah. Okay. Well that was also a kid’s bop song. 

Chuck: Right, right. About small business, 

Big John: like super catchy, right? Well, here’s a lyric from it. Walk into the club. Like what up?

I got a big, the kids, bop lyric became now walk into the club. What up? I got a hit song. 

Chuck: Hit song is now euphemism Fred large. What up? I got hit song. Right down here.

Big John: These are so bad too. Like, uh, you remember the lazy song by Bruno Mars? Yeah. The original lyric met, met a really nice girl, have some really nice sex and she goes out and she goes to scream out. This is great. Oh my God. This is great kids. Bop lyric met a really nice girl. Send a really nice text and she’s going to write back.

You’re so great. OMG. You’re so great. 

Chuck: So sexting, interesting, interesting place. 

Big John: Yeah, dude, there are so many of these too, like. That I didn’t even know that they did this, but now I’m like star ships by Nicki Minaj was a kid’s pop song. The original lyric was, were higher than a motherfucker. Kidz bop, lair were kids, bopping were taking over.

Chuck: Jesus. 

Big John: This is, this is, uh, probably like if, if Donald Trump’s campaign had to switch the lyrics to a song, this is what this sounds like. Uh, it’s not myself by Chris, not myself tonight by Christina Aguilera. The original lyric was if you don’t like it, you Kidz bop, lyrical kids, buck lyric was. And if you don’t like it, blue.

Chuck: You don’t like it. I just wish they wouldn’t pay that one. If you don’t like it.

Big John: Could you imagine that 

Chuck: Superman, that whole 

Big John: ad

they, they change. I know that we’re going on a tangent, but I think this is hilarious. I didn’t realize this, like kids, Bob also changes, not just like cuss words and stuff, but if they disagree with like a viewpoint, so, uh, religion, 

Chuck: what are they saying that they didn’t think that Macklemore had a big,

Big John: they 

Chuck: fact checked it, sir. It’s average. Okay. Sorry. 

Big John: Do you know that? Know the song breakeven by the script?

Just prayed to a God that I don’t believe in. Uh, no shit. They rewrote it as I’m still alive, but I’m barely breathing. Just pray into a thing that I don’t believe in.

So they took God off the table. They’re just done with it, 

Chuck: but is it still. It’s like, but then you’re just praying to a false idol that you don’t believe in at that point. So I don’t even like that doesn’t even solve their perceived problem. Can Kidz bop, some friggin hypocritical pieces of shit? 

Big John: I mean, look I, Oh God.

Okay. Last one we can move on. I didn’t know that this was okay. You know, the, the band one direction. 

Chuck: I’ve heard of them. Yeah. 

Big John: Okay. Well, I didn’t know that people had to change their lyrics. I thought that they would be like a, a pretty decent Kidz bop, like group. Uh, but I didn’t know. This was one of their lyrics.

The original lyric was, she told me in the morning, she don’t feel the same about us in her bones, which I’m assuming means I guess something sexual because they had to change it, but they changed it. Oh, okay. I don’t know why they changed it. They just changed the word morning to hallway. She never original.

What is she told me in the morning, she don’t feel the same about us in the boat and our bones. And they changed it to, she told me in the hallway, she don’t feel the same about 

Chuck: us in her bed. So they’re taking like, what’s a sexual innuendo and then just making it into nonsense. Like you’re walking down the hall.

You’re like, I don’t feel the same way about you in my bones. 

Big John: Yeah. Like, could you not have, look, I guess you’re not allowed in the hallway in the morning that going back to the little non-sex thing that the final thing I’ll say is we as kids, like, I know that you mentioned like the Superman or whatever, uh, Dan is, right.

But like, did you watch South park growing up? 

Chuck: I didn’t. I just, I couldn’t get, I thought it was fine. I was funny, but it just, the animation just annoyed the shit me. 

Big John: I understand, but there there’s an entire series of Saddam Hussein sleeping with Satan. 

Chuck: Yes, I did see that on 

Big John: the heavy, not a ton of sex with Satan, but like, because.

It just happened to be not a white guy or not a guy that they didn’t like a guy. They didn’t like it was okay. No one like blew up on him. Oh 

Chuck: yeah. They, I mean, hell if there was a song about there’s plenty of songs about Saddam getting raped and stuff that they were totally cool with. 

Big John: Yeah, Toby dude, Toby Keith talks about blowing them up 

Chuck: and I’m not against that music.

I’m just stating that for the record. But, 

Big John: um, nobody throws her hands in the air. Like what do we do? And what are we teaching our kids? 

Chuck: Right? It’s right. Why are we teaching our kids to be Keith about red solo cups and dirt Bentley getting drunk on a plane? 

Big John: Yeah, the only good part about it is he, he didn’t give any drinks.


Chuck: true. He, that was his saving grace. Anyway, uh, that is a good point, John, you bring that up and gee, what a shocker it’s probably because he’s a gay black man.

I know I did well. That’s, you know, the right wing Christian movement against stripper poles and Satan, but you know what? I’m just going to stay here for the record. I’m for it. I like him as a creator thought he, what he did was edgy. It was cool. So keep doing what you do. 

Big John: We can interpret art in a thousand different ways.

And I think just what he was doing was he was taking something that, you know, is his art and. You changed it to what 

Chuck: he liked and he’s made it taken hell, making it sexy. That’s what they, uh, they’ve always needed anyway. Yeah. 

Big John: That’s been all over their 

Chuck: Yelp announcement, zoom hangout. We’re doing zoom hanging out with patron members this Wednesday.

So when this comes out, it’ll be tomorrow, April 7th, 7:00 PM. Eastern time. Your Patrion member, you know about this. If you’re not joined, then you can join us. 

Big John: Uh, yeah, for as low as $5 a month and you get to hang out with us. That’s pretty cool. Look, I’m not, I’m not super, um, I don’t know, entertaining, but I love a good zoom meeting and I’m holding it.

Like it’s a meeting in our corporation. 

Chuck: Yes. Well, it is and very serious. Uh, you know, it’d be a good time. Um, don’t know what we’ll talk about. We’ll talk about something might happen for all the questions. We’ll answer all the questions, even questions that don’t exist. Um, dogs might make an , we’ll make an appearance and it’ll be a good time.

Anyway. Um, so shut up to that. There you go. A new Patrion members of John this week named mosque. 

Big John: We got through, we got three. Uh, thank you so much for joining and they are Lauren Lacey, Zach. Again, we appreciate all y’all joining. We appreciate everybody who stuck with us. Chuck. We’ve got people who have been Patriot members for a really long time a year.

It’s insane. Yeah, they they’ve been, they’ve been with us. They’re the O G Patriots. Geez. 

Chuck: Oh geez. Oh gee. Yeah. I mean, look. I’m shocked as much as you’re by it, but I’m grateful. Uh, and. Uh, and no exclusive this week, cause we’re going to be doing the zoom call. So show up for that promise. It’ll be more fun than the ones that you do at work promise.

How’s it going to make a joke? At least if it gets, if it starts to get boring, then I’ll just get drunk. So 

Data-Lachia: The Appalachian Counties in Alabama

Chuck: Data-lachia, I’m bringing it back this time. I cut it out of the last episode, but I’ve got it, it’s such a good lead in that. I have to do it because it relates to our topic today.

So I’m going to hit you with the number, John. And for those of you who don’t know data-lachia, it’s where I cite a number of statistics about Appalachia. John tries to guess what it is. Sometimes it gets it right. Sometimes he doesn’t. It’s always a good time when we talk about it. Today’s number John 37.

Big John: All right. 37. Uh, the number of people that are already stopped listening to this episode. 

Chuck: I hope that it’s not that high 

Big John: based off of our last discussion on kids, Bob that’s that’s my guess. Yeah. 

Chuck: I mean, 37 might be the number of albums kids. Bob has put out. I don’t know. It’s incorrect. I hope I can. It’s 

Big John: way above way above 37 for kids.

Chuck: Bob. I hope that 37 is incorrect for what you, uh, you first guest a tire. No, I’m just hoping that we don’t lose anybody, but, um, to be realistic. Yeah. I hope it’s it is 37. 

Big John: Yeah. That’d be great. Anyway, uh, real guests here, uh, I’m going to say 37 is a, it’s an Alabama. I’m assuming, I’m assuming, because I’m assuming it’s related to our topic today.

Chuck: I mean, yeah, it is loosely. 

Big John: There’s a little fishy, uh, Alabama 37. The number, the number of counties in Alabama that currently have a union. No, 

Chuck: damn. I thought you were going to get it. You are so close. It’s a number of counties in Alabama that are part of Appalachia.

Big John: Okay. Wait, 

Chuck: hang in there. Look, I know you’re upset and that’s. Understandable, but they’re upset because I have Nutella. I was going to say, I’m not upset. I’m disappointed. I’m disappointed. Yeah. Uh, so the reason why I brought that up is because we, we, and we see these comments several times of like people thinking that, Oh, Apple, or Alabama’s not part of Appalachia or Mississippi’s not, or New York isn’t or what have you, yada, yada, and, you know, kind of, one of the reasons we do this show is to present.

The complex picture of what is or what’s happening in Appalachia or what, how we see things. And part of that is talking about all of it because there are 37 counties in Alabama that are part of Appalachia 30 sites. 

Big John: I didn’t either, but I also, uh, spoiler alert. This is really closely related to beef with big John and this was 

Amazon union-busting in Bessemer, Alabama

Chuck: Good. Well, you know, it’s a 12 or so in right now. So, and I say that because today’s episode as John was alluding to is about Alabama and unionizing activities happening out Bama. So when this comes out, We might know the results of a very important vote. We’re not sure yet. So there, this is the kind of like the whole epicenter of the union movement right now is down in a place called Bessemer Alabama.

I forget which County it is. I think it might be Tuscaloosa, but I could be wrong. It is an Amazon distribution facility, about 6,000 employees. They are probably the closest, I think that any place in the US has ever been to unionizing and Amazon workplace, Amazon is notoriously then against unions, pushing back against them, um, being anti-union for a really long time.

Photo credit: Scott Lewis via Flickr

The workplace just submitted the votes from employees to the NLRB, the national labor relations board and so I have read that a decision could come as early as Monday because of how close they are to being finished. So at the recording of this was a Sunday before we’re recording this right now. So in the evening so that we may get results, I’m not sure, but basically, from what I understand, it needs to be about 30% of employees, of workers out of that facility to vote in favor of it in order for, um, the, for them to form a union.

And this can be huge because like I mentioned, this would be the first North American, uh, entity of Amazon that would be unionized, that would, they would have a union. Which is huge for their, you know, their 500,000 domestic employees. And what’s even more important about that is it can really spur that type of activity and other union and other Amazon workplaces.

So seeing it being possible, there could encourage employees and other ones across the country to unionize as well, which would be huge. And we should really put Amazon on their backs. 

Big John: Yeah. And just from my history, I look, I actually knew the answer to that datalachia. I just didn’t want to spoil it. I know also know that Bessemer is in Jefferson County, Alabama, Google, and no, this was something I learned in school.

So the cost of their hotels, average three stars, $145 a night. Anyway, uh, my favorite, one of my favorite classes in law school, we got to do a simulation for union voting, uh, where we had people like that. They put on the inside, uh, that was trying to like break up the union.

We had people who were cheating and stuff, uh, stuff that everybody faces. I’ll tell you what it was difficult. To get the union passed in a class where the union supposed to pass. And so I can’t imagine how difficult it actually, well, I can because I’ve looked at it, but it’s super difficult is what I’m trying to say to get a union pass.

It is not easy to get the votes that you need. I know that the threshold does not sound like a lot, but it is because one, you have people who are scared. They don’t, you know, They don’t wanna lose their jobs. And they’re told that they’re gonna lose their jobs. There’s a lot of terrible stuff we’ll get into it.

I’m sure. Um, but yeah, this is, uh, this is a really big deal, uh, especially if it passes. 

Chuck: Yeah. And you’re right about it. Just being kind of an uphill climb and that’s, and you know, there’s a reason why no workplace of Amazons has been unionized yet, even though it’s the largest. I think one of the Lord is not the largest, but one of the largest company in the world.

Conditions workers face at Amazon

So. I am going to dedicate part of this episode to just shitting on Amazon a little bit, because I really don’t like them. It’s been, I’m starting to count the days that I’ve used since I’ve used Amazon. I think it’s been over almost two months now. I’m trying to try to extend that longer. So if anyone wants to join in that effort, please do so Amazon sucks.

Day. So during the pandemic, and this is one of the, kind of like the, this organizing, a lot of it started. I mean, it’s been happening for a long time, but it really has increased here. So workers have faced possible COVID-19 infection along hours, fulfilling online orders. But in the meantime, Amazon has made insane profits since pandemic is everybody’s ordering stuff rather than going out to stores.

And, uh, and so that the company themselves, they grew. Net sales 44% in 2020 over the previous year and brought in 125.6 billion in revenue in the fourth quarter of 2020 alone. So all the, while they treat their employees like shit, and that’s how they make this money. John, I know that you probably seen this.

A lot of people probably have been going around on the Internet’s a little bit workers have to piss in bottles in order to meet ridiculous productivity metrics, especially the ones that are driving the, um, the, the delivery truck, because they, they literally can’t take time and to go and use the restroom or else they won’t be able to make their productivity and their, you know, and I’ll get into like how they track that here in a second.

Um, It’s been report it. The women have to bring buckets and baby wipes into their trucks so they can use the restroom. And, uh, it’s interesting is, is Amazon actually denied all of this, but then somebody leaked internal documents to the intercept, which should the company not only knew about it, but they also knew about people having to shit in bags.

I mean the pack, like I don’t blame them for doing this. I mean, You know, you have to do it too, but, but the fact to come to you about it and then denied, it is just stupid and not surprising. But since February and John, this will resonate to you since February last year, there’s been 37 charges filed against the NLRB, uh, on behalf of Amazon employees, which is a lot, I think Walmart’s only had like 10 since then.

So in that tells you something like people are starting to organize. They’re starting to get fed up with, with Amazon’s BS. And I don’t know. I’ve, I don’t know either know anybody that’s worked in any of the distribution facilities, but I have, and they absolutely hate it. 

Big John: Yeah. Um, I, I knew a couple of people who went to work for Amazon after college and every, both of them, uh, were they quit and like, uh, I think three or four months just, and it’s not because they’re not hard workers.

Cause both of them are at the same job now that they got after Amazon. Um, Yeah is terrible. I mean, it’s just awful conditions. They don’t treat their staff very well. And look, there’s a reason why companies like them will do everything they can to stop unions. And it’s because it will stop them from being able to treat their employees like trash.

Chuck: Yeah. And they hate that at Amazon, and it’ll stop them from being able to pay as much to their shareholders and their, their corporate execs. One of which I will get into because he, uh, it’s pretty disappointing. And then he sucks, but I wanted to talk a little bit about their, uh, kind of big brother aspect of how they do all this.

I was reading. And this is by no means comprehensive, by the way, this is just a little bit of reading into this. They use thermal cameras, items, scanners, navigation, software, electronic wristbands, and security cameras to monitor their employees. You’ve got all these things on you that are monitoring you, monitoring you basically.

From the time you punch in till the time you punch out. And it’s all based on making sure that you are productive enough so they can meet their, their two day delivery quotas or, you know, get the items off the shelf and ship them out efficiently. And it’s, it’s really just inhumane they create. So this is interesting when it comes to unions, this is how coordinated.

Their union busting is, and this is just kind of a snippet of it. We’re going to talk a little bit more about that here in a second, but they create heat maps and use data such as team members sentiment and a diversity index to figure out which of its stores and workplaces have a higher risk of unionism.

Like this is how the, and they regularly hire FBI agents to. Like to like track people and investigate and, and pick up on any like organizing activity. It, the shit is nuts and, 

Big John: but I’ve, I’ve had an FBI agent trailing you. 

Chuck: Great. He’s going to be real disappointed. 

Big John: Yeah. It’s been a really boring 

Chuck: investigation.

Yeah. He he’s, he’s looking for that payday and getting that fucked up. So there’s one, one thing their PR for this has been terrible. This whole time that they’ve been running, you know, because there’s been so much scrutiny on Amazon. Uh, and so much attention brought to him by this Bessemer vote. The PR operation has been kind of an overdrive, so they got a new CEO.

It’s not Jeff PCIs anymore. He’s called themselves the Bernie Sanders of employers and bragged about their $15 minimum wage. Yet, they put out tweets, refuting the piss claims and the shit claims. I just want to put a special F you out there to Jay Carney, who was, who was formerly the, um, press secretary for Barack Obama when he was president.

Now he’s basically head of Amazon’s public policy and PR and he’s out there putting out a bunch of BS, tweets about how they treat their employees well, and all this stuff. And it’s like, you know, all these people are just fucking company men. They’re out there to collect. He’s Jay Carney is probably pulling in that minimum 500 K I bet it at a minimum, in addition to all the other money he’s bringing in to go out there and bust up these unions of these people who literally have to shit in bags to get their 15 bucks an hour.

Big John: Yeah. I mean, look the Amazon, I don’t know if you saw this. I know that you don’t like YouTube very much. Um, but you’ve probably seen at least something from these guys, dude. Perfect. Have you ever seen. Okay. Okay. So Amazon has been creating Twitter accounts, uh, to go in and essentially be a bot and say like bad things about unions.

Like, why would you ever want to be part of a union? Cause then you got to pay fees and stuff like that. And then if you can’t, uh, 12 months of fees is one , you know, shit like that. Um, well they created, they really do that. Have you seen those flyers? They’re terrible. Anyway. Um, so they created this, this one specific Twitter and they used a picture and obviously Google reverse image search works all.

They, they took pictures of the dude, perfect guys and crop them and made them into Twitter bots. It was that’s how. Amazon, oh amazon – what a wild company Amazon truly is.

Chuck: lazy? Oh yeah. Yeah, no, that’s actually, the other thing I wanted to bring up with this too, is like, there. There, whoever their PR is like, whoever they’re hiring to do this stuff needs to be fired.

But even actually I hope they keep them on though. Cause I think it’s hilarious, but yeah, you’re right. Well, they have like all these bots out there on Twitter there that are supposedly people, like you mentioned that work at the facilities and it is so bluntly clear that they’re not like there’s one, it was Darla at G Y R one, which I’m guessing is the facility.

Picking customer orders since April 20, 20 big fan of watching movies and proud mama, two boys also put the pronouns in there to make sure she’s woke. And then she would tweet things like, Oh, I’m not against unions. I just want more of my paycheck. And you know, the pictures are clearly like just, they probably ripped them off of some, uh, some stock photo website.

Big John: Well, the one with, the guy from Dude Perfect he had, he was following nine people, uh, zero followers. His bio says husband, father, happy Amazon employee. It is his one. The tweet is unions are good for some companies, but I don’t want to have to shell out hundreds a month just for lawyers, hashtag Amazon.

Chuck: back. There it is. Well, yeah, this is so it’s just pathetic. Anyway. It’s like embarrassing. You know, the, one of the richest companies in the world can afford to do a decent PR anyway. I mean, that’s neither here nor there. I just thought it was funny, but. Uh, so their union busting is not funny.

And there’s a connection here to Appalachia, which I will tell you about. So you’re just a couple of examples of some of the union-busting activity Amazon has done by no means is this, is this. Exhausted, but in the best summer facility and in other facilities where there has been union organizing activity, they’ve put flyers all across the bathroom stalls, uh, basically with lots of things on them, but some just saying, where will your dues go and starting to try to, um, So some disinformation about the money that’s taken out of your paycheck for a union dues and what it’ll actually go to. Again, this is Amazon doing this. Amazon is very anti-union, yet Amazon claims to be a progressive company.

I think one of them said lawyers to Sue people, which would align with fake dude, perfect guys, Twitter profile, they changed. This is interesting, John. And I think this has been used not just by Amazon, but this is a sort of, one of those low ball anti-union busting tactics. They changed the traffic signals, prevent organizers from approaching warehouse workers as they left the site.

So they literally found a way or paid somebody off to change the traffic light to time them so that when the people got off work, they couldn’t be met by union organizers. 

Big John: Yeah. A lot of people believe that that’s what companies like DuPont and Amazon did. Like, that’s why that there’s like random lights by plants is that’s the reason they did it.

They excuses instead of they could let workers out. But in actuality it was a union busting tactic that a lot of companies. Yeah. 

Chuck: Yeah, it’s ridiculous and Amazon is a nightmare. But it’s, it’s always clicked in some mundane bullshit. They’re able to get away with it. They, um, and this is something that. A lot of companies do they held mandatory meetings with all workers or management, pushed them to vote against the union regularly intimidate workers that are showing interest in union and union organizing and putting out, um, information about it, which again, is, is against national labor relations act, all of that.

And they pushed to make an investment or specifically they push to make the vote exclusively by mail. Now I believe the national labor relations board rejected that, but it was just another way to. Discourage people from voting and there’s the kicker, John, they hired Pinkerton, which is a notorious anti-union spying agency to gather Intel on their employees that were working to unionize.

And you will recall that the Pinkertons were also hired to be used to guard coal iron in lumber disputes. During the battle of Blair mountain. So coal companies hired them. These guys have been around a long, long time and they’re notoriously anti-union. So that tells you anything. They were on the wrong side of the battle of Blair mountain.

So good on you, Amazon for hiring, probably what equates to being the scum of the earth.

Big John: Yeah. I, I think that that’s something that needs to be hit on. What you just mentioned too, is like, there are a lot of NLRB rules and regulations that protect employees that don’t think a lot of employees know about, or, you know, because they’re not educated at work. Why would you educate workers of their rights?

Uh, that would be, you know, too nice. Uh, so obviously like you have the ability to. To be protected while forming a union, like against retaliation and things like that. And I think that that’s something that needs to be discussed more. Cause like it is, you go through hell, like there’s the NLRB doesn’t stop that they cause they can’t, but they can stop you from being like fired and like, you know, stuff like that.

But you’ll go through a lot of other things that get around the NLRB and Amazon I’m sure is taking full. Use of everything that they can around those regulations. And the fact is there are, there are a lot of people, Chuck, who wonder why you and I are, are pro union, right? Because they’re, you know, there’s a lot of bad discussion about it, but there are three things that I want to mention before we jump off this train on why like unions so much, the first one is States with right to work.

You know, right. To work Jack it’s essentially 

Chuck: yeah. Right to work. Yeah. I mean, right. To work essentially. Well, unions, Brendan has the right to work for less. It makes, um, uh, your memberships, uh, voluntary. It’s a bit, basically what happens is you can get the benefits of, of union bargaining and negotiating without having to pay dues, which essentially neuters unions and, and makes them like diminishes their power significantly.

Big John: Yeah. And that’s the point and States with right to work. So Missouri is a really good case study of that. The year after they implemented right to work, their wages dropped 15%. It’s that quick. Yeah, there’ve been, there’ve been some that have dropped 30% is the they’re able to do it because they, they kill unions without saying they’re killing unions.

And that’s why, you know, it also takes away things like, um, federally regulated wages, where they are state mandated wages for union workers, stuff like that. The other two big things that I think are important, healthcare. We talk about this all the time, the need for healthcare Chuck, one of the 15 F more than 50% of non-union workers don’t have health care.

How many  what’s the percentage of union workers that have helped 

Chuck: 50% or a hundred percent labor union is a hundred. 

Big John: No, it’s not a hundred. 

Chuck: No luck. 

Big John: Cool. Thanks. Now you made more than, more than 50. Yeah, it is 75% of union workers have health insurance, but the reason there’s a lot of reason behind why it’s lower than a hundred percent it’s because they have, they, they get the option that they don’t have to take it or their spouse has it, or other things like that.

Uh, the last thing we talked about union dues. Right. Union dues are expensive. I will not say that they’re not. I think that they’re worth every penny, but they are expensive to people. Here’s the difference that they don’t want to tell you though? Union workers in 2019 made $800 more a month. So if your union dues are $800, And you were able to get healthcare because of it.

You’re literally not paying anything 

Chuck: extra. And normally union dues would not be that high, like 

Big John: 800. Yeah. Right. I’m just saying that, I’m just saying that the max, right. Like yeah. You know, 

Chuck: you’re something lower. Yeah. No, it’s a fact. And I’ve seen, like, I used to leave my dad’s paycheck and see how much you took out.

It was, it was, uh, Modest fee, but it wasn’t like anything earth shattering in the fact that the reason that they use that argument Amazon is because they it’s easy to say, Oh, well, you’re getting money taken out of your paycheck, but the. Benefit other than like healthcare and stuff, which again, you’re like Amazon employees, I guess, are offered healthcare, but a union could probably negotiate a better plan, but more so than that, as they can negotiate higher wages and it puts, it puts pressure on the company to do that.

And so the higher wages will help offset any, any costs of, of a union, um, uh, dues. So that’s the whole thing behind it is you’re investing in someone to, to bargain on your behalf and get you better benefits and better pay. And statistically, like you cited a union. People always get paid more always. 

Big John: Well, we, I, I just mentioned that, uh, they make about $800 more a month union dues annually across the board average $400 

Chuck: year.

So there you go. 

Big John: Yeah. Yeah. So, I mean, it’s a massive increase use. I think we shared it. The tech talk video of the union worker. The guy who sitting, you know, 

Chuck: uh, construction or big, 

Big John: big, big handsome guy 

Chuck: looked like your brother. 

Big John: Uh, could have been, uh, but he, you know, he, I loved the way that he broke down, why his union was important.

Uh, you know, he did it very simply, but he even mentioned, and this is what the average is too. He said that his union dues are about two hours of his work per month that, you know, the, the equivalent and that’s the national average. So for two hours that you’ve worked, you’re going to pay per month, per month for union dues.

Chuck: So 30 minutes a week, 

Big John: That’s why these companies hate it because it’s not actually that much money. Now. It is. I will say there are people who struggle and union dues do her, but something else that people don’t talk about is like, there are some unions that will offer financial assistance to that. 

Chuck: Yeah, there there’s that.

And then a lot of them offer fringe benefits as well. Like they have a lot of the, a lot of times they’ll have deals with different local grocery stores or the credit union. You can usually get off participate in a credit union, which is better than a bank car insurance deals, um, vacation deals to get to some world, um, that kind of thing.

So, yeah, there’s a lot of fringe benefits to it and just ultimately over time, it pays for itself with negotiated higher. Uh, pay and wages and, and just the ability to, to bargain. It starts to tip the scales in favor of the workers just a little bit more and that’s why it’s important because look at how powerful Amazon is, you know, look at what kind of like a behemoth of a company that is, you know, how the richest man in the world is that way because of that company.

The Amazon is taking over everything. They’re going to start offering healthcare. That’s not far down the road. That’s a legitimate thing that they’re working on it like as a healthcare provider company, uh, insurance company. And so they’re, they’re insanely powerful. They’re like this, this. Massive corporate entity that is just taking over this country.

And I hope I am. I really hope that the employees of the Bessemer plant will vote to authorize that union because I think that the ripple effect of that could be astronomically important and it could really start to spur a new labor movement in this country. I mean, maybe that’s a little, a little too optimistic of what could happen, but, uh, I mean, it really, you know, you think about it and how many people work for Amazon.

It really could make a huge difference. And at least it would make a difference in the lives of the people that work there. 

Big John: A small business slash podcast.

We should take an oath right now. Chuck, as soon as we become a billion dollar company, we, we agree that we will only pay our employees at least $70,000 a year. 

Chuck: When we become a billion dollar company, we will do that. We’ll also let them unionize. They will unionize.

That’s our oath, right? Spread the gospel. Anyway, speaking about spreading the gospel, talking about a beef with big John.

Beef with Big John – Less of beef and more of a disclaimer!

Big John: real quick. I know this episode a little bit longer, and I think this one’s just basic. I hinted to it earlier that, uh, Chuck mentioned that. Appalachia. We always, as people who talk about Appalachia a lot, we always kind of get, um, I don’t know the word for it. What’s the word for like, mansplained, but obviously like, Hmm.

Not laned lectured. Yeah. W we lectured, I think that’s a good one. As, as people who always talk about Appalachia, we kind of get lectured a lot on what people think Appalachia is. Right? So, uh, that Appalachia is only a certain set of States. Like a lot of people think it’s just West Virginia and Kentucky, uh, But there’s also a different issue, Chuck, and we’ve never talked about this.

We’ve always been super nice. Right? You and I have talked about this. You and I have talked about this behind the scenes. We have, we’ve never mentioned this podcasts. You don’t even know what I’m talking about. I don’t don’t 

Chuck: even know what I mentioned excited and kind of nervous. 

Big John: Chuck. I have to make it clear.

And I know, I know you’re going to be upset because I’m going to, I’m breaking the fourth wall. Oh shit. Here we go. We have pod Latcher. Are not a West Virginia podcast. Oh 

Chuck: shit. 

Big John: We’re not, we, we’re not a West Virginia, even though 

Chuck: we’re getting rid of file LLC paperwork that will have us incorporated in the state of West Virginia.

Big John: West Virginia Small business. Sure. Yeah. Right. But our, our podcast is not focused on West Virginia where two guys from West Virginia. So people assume that that’s all we talk about. Not all talking about. That’s not right. Chuck doesn’t live here anymore. Uh, most days I wish I didn’t. 

Chuck: Sort of pulled back that fourth wall or revealing some cracks in it.


Big John: I’m just saying that. Cause I’m at the legislature right now. Anyway. Um, look, we love West Virginia. Okay. And we know that a lot of people that listen to this podcast are from West Virginia or live there, or have ties there, but we have to make it clear. Like we’re not a West Virginia podcast. We’re not going to focus on West Virginia where we talked in our opinions.

We talk too much about West Virginia at the beginning of this podcast. Uh, so now. W making it clear where we are, as the name says, we’re an Appalachian podcast. We’re going to focus on the entire region. We’ll continue to educate people about the entire region and we’ll continue to be educated by about it.

This in no way, shape or form is anything against West Virginia, but we get a lot of, um, We get a lot of like comments and messages just about like really specific West Virginia things, uh, which are great, but great. Love it. Right, right. Like, yeah. You know, people messaged us about, you know, random stuff that’s going on in West Virginia, which we love to hear about, but we’re not going to cover it.

And I think that that’s something that we have to make clear as like, again, this is not anything against West Virginia. We love West Virginia. We’ll continue to talk about. West Virginia here and there, but we’re gonna talk about the region overall. And I, I’m not saying this to be mean to anybody or anything like that.

I just want to explain like why we may not cover something that you send us. And it’s not because we don’t like the idea. It’s just that it might be too, too regional or too specific to, you know, a certain part of the state or something. 

Chuck: Yeah. Or too racy stop sending us those Dick pics. 

Big John: Yeah, seriously, we cannot 

Chuck: publish those.

No, we can’t. And that’s 

Big John: um, I mean, we are making a book. We are making a book, you know, that is that, that will be a 

Chuck: Patriot. It’s called

so nice coffee table book. Put it on there. When you have people over that you don’t want to come back. 

Big John: We love you. We love West Virginia, but we love Appalachia the most. 

Chuck: That’s right. That’s right. And I think the point is like, it’s not going to be exclusively about West Virginia. That doesn’t mean we’re not going to have people on from West Virginia.

In fact, most of our guests have actually been outside of West Virginia. 

Big John: Well, exactly. And I’m, I’m saying this just again, not to be like, mean or rude or anything. I just, I think that people may feel bad, like when we don’t cover something, And we don’t always like if somebody messages is a measure that messages us like something specific and we don’t cover it, I just don’t want people to feel bad.

And it really bugs me. Cause sometimes we don’t get the chance to message them back fully. And I think just explaining that, um, you know, we love the state, but that’s not all we do. I think it’s. 

Chuck: Yeah. And I mean, you know, we, we try to look, we try to. Talk fully about Appalachia and, and cover every part of it.

And we, we try to do that and hope to do it more. That’s why today we talked about Alabama because Alabama, you know, it, it gets, gets swept under the rug when talking about Appalachia, it’s important part of it. So isn’t that 

Big John: weird? I, that I just thought of that West Virginia. This is like one of the only times when you talk about Appalachia where West Virginia is at the forefront, because like West Virginia usually gets kind of ignored on most things.

Yeah. But when we talk about the region, it’s the only state that has the entire part of it in Appalachia. So I think that’s really cool. Anyway, go 

Chuck: cool. Overall ended 

Big John: great session. 

Chuck: Great stuff. Great. That’s kind of a 

Big John: great therapy 

Chuck: session. It’s kinda like a beef, but it was like. Well, yeah, like a happy beef, like, Hey, yeah, I really 

Big John: don’t have beef.

It’s just mostly, I want to explore, I wanted to take my time to be able to explain something beef 

Chuck: consummate. No, I like that. Sure. We’ll go there. Beef broth, tar beef, tar tar being a beef tar tar. Thank you all so much for listening to us. Follow us on all social media and checking us out on www pod letcher.com.

patrion.com/pod latch to join us for that live zoom and every other thing. And remember that platypuses should be the next Easter bunny. Love you. Good night.

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