By Nandita Bose
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. Senator Marco Rubio on Friday became the first high-profile Republican lawmaker to support a growing push to unionize Amazon.com Inc workers in Alabama, after several Democratic lawmakers visited the company’s facility last week.
In an opinion piece in USA Today, Rubio wrote that Amazon has “waged a war against working-class values” and is “looking to crush the union vote” in Bessemer, Alabama.
“Here’s my standard: 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. And that’s why I stand with those at Amazon’s Bessemer warehouse today.”
Rubio’s backing is noteworthy as Republicans traditionally favor businesses and investors and have been historically much less-supportive of unionizing efforts.
Amazon workers at the Alabama facility began voting by mail in February on whether to join the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union and become the first group of U.S. Amazon employees to unionize.
President Joe Biden also recently expressed support for the Amazon warehouse employees and defended workers’ rights to form unions.
Last week, Democratic U.S. Representatives Andy Levin, Jamaal Bowman, Cori Bush, Terri Sewell and Nikema Williams visited the facility and met workers and organizers.
Amazon did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
A company spokeswoman has previously said Amazon does not believe the RWDSU represents the majority of employees’ views and said the company pays well compared with its competitors.
This is not the first time Rubio has clashed with Amazon. He was part of a group of conservative lawmakers who wrote to the company in February after it stopped selling a book that Amazon said framed transgender and other sexual identities as mental illnesses.
The pressure on Amazon has also continued to mount from other areas in Washington.
On Friday, Senator Bernie Sanders invited Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, the world’s richest person, to appear before his Senate Budget panel for a hearing on income and wealth inequality.
(Reporting by Nandita Bose in Washington; Editing by Dan Grebler)