American businesses like Amazon can no longer assume that they have the support of the country's conservatives, according to Republican U.S. Senator Marco Rubio. The Florida senator singled out Jeff Bezos's "Silicon Valley titan" for criticism in an opinion piece published by USA Today on March 12. He said Amazon had "burned bridges with former allies." Rubio expressed support for the efforts of Amazon warehouse employees to unionize in Bessemer, Alabama.

As a rule, the senator said, "Adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong." But Amazon was an unusual case, Rubio said, arguing that "Uniquely malicious corporate behavior like Amazon’s justifies a more adversarial approach to labor relations."

Amazon accused of censoring on behalf of China

The senator said Amazon had been fighting "a war against working-class values." Rubio accused Amazon of the following:

  • Destroying small enterprises through “anticompetitive strategies.”
  • Refusing to stock certain conservative books.
  • Carrying out “censorship” on behalf of China.
  • Excluding “traditional charities” from the AmazonSmile program.

Rubio pointed out that Amazon's profits had dramatically increased "thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns" and Amazon founder Jeff Bezos was "the first person in history worth $200 billion." However, the senator said he was not sure just how significant that immense wealth had been in motivating the people behind the unionization effort.

Rubio said Amazon and other businesses "have been allies of the left in the culture war." Yet, the senator noted, when these businesses saw their profits endangered, they sought help from conservatives. "But the days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over," Rubio wrote.

'A surprising endorsement'

Reporting on Rubio's "surprising endorsement" of unionization at the Bessemer warehouse, the New York Times said he was "the most prominent Republican leader" to take a position on the matter.

The paper quoted Stuart Appelbaum, the president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, as welcoming the senator's comments about the union's attempt to represent the warehouse workers. "This should not be a partisan issue," Appelbaum told the paper. The New York Times noted that President Joe Biden had posted a video on Twitter which was supportive of unionization in Alabama but did not specifically mention Amazon.

Childhood memories of walking a picket line

In his opinion piece, Rubio recalled that, as a child, he had accompanied his father, a bartender, on a picket line when the Culinary Workers Union went on strike. The senator said that experience had taught him "all workers deserve respect." Most businesses respected their employees, Rubio said, adding "But Amazon does not fall into that category."