Amazon Alabama warehouse unionisation effort gets bitpartisan support after Florida Republican senator Marco Rubio publishes tirade against ‘malicious’ company
US senator Marco Rubio has voiced his support for a unionisation effort at an Amazon warehouse in Alabama, in a boost for unionisers.
The move is notable due to the fact that Rubio’s Republican party is better known for supporting companies and investors in anti-union efforts.
Rubio, a Florida lawmaker, said in a USA Today column that Amazon had “waged a war against working-class values” and was “looking to crush the union vote” at its Bessemer, Alabama warehouse.
“When the conflict is between working Americans and a company whose leadership has decided to wage culture war against working-class values, the choice is easy — I support the workers,” Rubio wrote.
In his column Rubio also voiced criticism of unions, saying they can weaken “a good American company”, but that in the case of Amazon, “workers are right to suspect that its management doesn’t have their best interests in mind”.
He accused Amazon of “uniquely malicious corporate behaviour” that “justifies a more adversarial approach to labour relations”.
Amazon, along with tech giants such as Apple, Facebook and Google, has faced bipartisan criticism over antitrust issues, and the company has also been hit by regulatory action in Europe over its business practices.
Rubio’s column follows a visit to the Bessemer facility by Democratic US representatives Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Terri Sewell and Nikema Williams, who met with workers and organisers earlier this month.
President Joe Biden, a Democrat, has also expressed solidarity with unionisers at Amazon, telling them to “make your voice heard”.
In February nearly 6,000 workers at the Bessemer warehouse began voting by mail on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU), in the first major unionisation effort at the company since 2014.
Workers a the facility told the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) last November of their plans to hold the vote, in which ballots were sent out on 8 February and must be received by 29 March.
Amazon said in a statement, “When Senator Rubio says Amazon is ‘waging war on working-class values,’ does he mean our $15 (£11) starting wage, comprehensive benefits, or the paid parental leave we provide for hourly workers?”
RWDSU president Stuart Appelbaum thanked Rubio for supporting the union drive and said the effort “should not be a partisan issue”.
Amazon has said it respects workers’ rights to join a union, but that it would create a barrier between them and the company.
It has held mandatory employee meetings stating the case against unionisation and set up a website urging them to “do it without dues”.
The company also opposed mail-in ballots for the Bessemer unionisation vote, filing an unsuccessful NLRB appeal in January in an attempt to force in-person voting.