MARCH 16, 2021
Meyerson on TAP
At Amazon’s Warehouse: Biden Raises Hopes, Rubio Raises Eyebrows
The unionization campaign by Amazon’s warehouse workers in Bessemer, Alabama, got a shot in the arm earlier this month when President Biden affirmed their right, and every American worker’s right, to form a union free from the threats of management. A more surprising shot was fired last Friday, when Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, a past and future Republican presidential hopeful, penned an op-ed in USA Today that backed the Bessemer workers’ efforts to win collective-bargaining rights—but only because Amazon, in Rubio’s words, is a “woke” employer that “has waged a war against working-class values.”

Rubio attacked Amazon for “bow[ing] to China’s censorship demands” (with which Rupert Murdoch has eagerly complied, but you won’t hear that from Marco). Chiefly, though, he attacked it for its cultural and social liberalism—which makes all the difference to him. Most of the time, he laments, unions “essentially mandate adversarial relations between labor and management.” For that reason, he continues, he opposes the PRO Act, which would enable workers to form unions free from management coercion.

But the set-upon workers of Bessemer labor under a company that he says also spurns their values. “Today it might be workplace conditions,” he says, “but tomorrow it might be a requirement that the workers embrace management’s latest ‘woke’ human relations fad.”

Like, I suppose, support for Black Lives Matter, which the heavily African American Bessemer workforce, like all true working-class Americans, must surely oppose. For which reason, Rubio backs the efforts against Amazon management but would oppose such efforts from the workers at Walmart, a company that reliably backs Republicans. By the Rubio standard, an organizer who sought to unionize My Pillow should be tarred and feathered (presumably, My Pillow already has the feathers).

Like Josh Hawley and Tom Cotton, Rubio is seeking to strengthen the Republican Party’s claim on the white working class with a very selective embrace of their economic claims, so long as those claims can be aligned with those of the culture war that is the linchpin of the party’s identity. If more Republican elected officials embrace the logical implications of Rubio’s turn, American unions may yet revive—if enough corporations provide benefits to gay couples, support civil rights legislation, and back the right to vote. Such transgressions against “working-class values” mean they deserve a place on Rubio’s hit list.

If only …

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