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Sen. Rubio supports Amazon workers' union efforts in Alabama

In an op-ed, the Republican senator says he stands with workers at the Bessemer, Alabama, warehouse.

Amazon workers in Alabama are voting this month on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union. 
Angela Lang/CNET

Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is throwing his support behind a push to unionize by Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama. In an op-ed in USA Today published Friday, Rubio accused Amazon of waging a war against "working-class values" and said he stands with workers at the Bessemer warehouse. 

"Uniquely malicious corporate behavior like Amazon's justifies a more adversarial approach to labor relations," Rubio wrote. "It is no fault of Amazon's workers if they feel the only option available to protect themselves against bad faith is to form a union. Today it might be workplace conditions, but tomorrow it might be a requirement that the workers embrace management's latest 'woke' human resources fad."

The op-ed comes as Amazon on Thursday reportedly told Rubio and other Republican senators that it will no longer sell literature that frames LGBTQ identities as mental illnesses

On Friday, Amazon pushed back against the op-ed, saying that if Rubio stands with American workers, he should endorse Sen. Bernie Sanders' push for a $15 an hour federal minimum wage

"When Senator Rubio says Amazon is 'waging war on working class values,' does he mean our $15 starting wage, comprehensive benefits, or the paid parental leave we provide for hourly workers?" said an Amazon spokesperson in an emailed statement. "If he stands with American workers like he says he does, he should endorse Senator Sanders' minimum wage bill today." 

Workers in Alabama are voting this month in the first union election at an Amazon warehouse in the US since a failed effort in 2014. The union election is set to conclude at the end of March, with 5,800 employees receiving ballots by mail and choosing whether to let the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) represent them in contract negotiations. 

The union drive has drawn national attention as Amazon continues to post increasingly massive profits during the coronavirus pandemic. Earlier this month, President Joe Biden publicly expressed support for workers attempting to unionize in Alabama. 

On Friday, Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont, said that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos had been invited to testify during a Senate Budget Committee hearing next week on income and wealth inequality in America. In a release for the hearing, Sanders accused Bezos of engaging in an "aggressive union-busting campaign against Amazon workers" in Alabama. While it's unclear if Bezos will provide testimony, an Amazon worker from the Bessemer warehouse is expected to speak at the hearing.