Academy Award-winning actor Susan Sarandon paid Amazon workers a surprise visit Friday afternoon in the Chelsea offices where the employees and volunteers were phone banking to garner support for their nascent unionization efforts.
Sarandon, herself a member of SAG-AFTRA *, said she’d heard the workers were phone banking on social media and wanted to stop by to show her support.
“Stay strong. You’re inspiring everybody who’s in a union and everybody who needs a union, ”she said. “I just feel you’re the most optimistic thing that’s happening right now in this country. … Everybody’s watching and really rooting for you. ”
Workers and volunteers, gathered at the Unite Here Local 100 union offices, are aiming to call all of the estimated 8,000 workers at a Staten Island Amazon warehouse before voting starts on March 25th. The JFK8 distribution facility could become the nation’s first or second unionized Amazon warehouse. Workers in Bessemer, Alabama are also voting by mail on whether they want to form a union. Both votes are expected to be tallied at the end of the month.
Amazon spokesperson Kelly Nantel has previously said the company wanted their workers’ voices to be heard.
“Our employees have always had a choice of whether or not to join a union, and our focus remains on working directly with our team to make Amazon a great place to work,” she recently said. She did not return a request for further comment Friday.
Amazon Labor Union organizers are campaigning to push for higher starting wages, just cause protections, longer breaks and workplace improvements, such as shuttles for workers with long commutes.
* SAG-AFTRA also represents employees of Gothamist and WNYC.