Amazon is waging a culture war against working-class values and is not helping workers or our economy.
For the past several years, Amazon has waged a war against working-class values. The Silicon Valley titan uses anticompetitive strategies to crush small businesses, bans conservative books and blocks traditional charities from participating in its AmazonSmile program. Not surprisingly, it has also bowed to China’s censorship demands.
Amazon may be headquartered in America, but it considers itself a citizen of the world.
Now, the company is facing a unionization effort at its warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama.
The move comes after a banner year for Amazon thanks to the COVID-19 lockdowns. But even after historic market gains, its corporate leadership fears the prospect of its workers having an increased say in working conditions, so it’s looking to crush the union vote.
Wrong for both workers and our economy
For decades, companies like Amazon have been allies of the left in the culture war, but when their bottom line is threatened they turn to conservatives to save them. Republicans have rightly understood the dangers posed by the unchecked influence of labor unions. Adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong. They are wrong for both workers and our nation’s economic competitiveness.
But the days of conservatives being taken for granted by the business community are over.
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.
Uniquely malicious corporate behavior like Amazon’s justifies a more adversarial approach to labor relations. 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.
It isn’t clear whether the union effort is primarily driven by complaints from its workers, agitation from Democratic operatives, or just the fact that Jeff Bezos has now become the first person in history worth $200 billion. But Amazon should understand that waging a war on small businesses and working-class values has burned bridges with former allies.
Adversarial labor relations are generally harmful. When it is a good American company — for example, certain American automakers — adversarial relations risk hurting labor and management alike by causing American industry to lose ground to foreign competition. And too often, the right to form a union has been, in practice, a requirement that business owners allow left-wing social organizers to take over their workplaces.
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That’s not what’s going on here.
Amazon’s opposition to the union effort in its own backyard is also inconsistent with the progressive values it has forced on everyone else. If Amazon thinks that conservatives will automatically rally to do its bidding after proving itself to be such enthusiastic culture warriors, it is sorely mistaken.
Plenty of American businesses act loyally to our country, respect their employees and want the best for their communities.
We do not need more oligopolies
What our nation desperately needs is not more oligopolies like Amazon or hostile relationships; what we need is a more productive relationship between labor and management. Legislation like the Democrats’ Protecting the Right to Organize Act would essentially mandate adversarial relations between labor and management.
For my part, I have pushed for reforms to our laws to restore the healthy role that organized labor has historically played in our private sector. One of my earliest political memories was marching the picket line with my dad in a Culinary Workers Union strike when he worked as a hotel bartender, and the lesson I took from it — all workers deserve respect — has stuck with me all throughout my career. Our laws should help build more productive relationships between labor and businesses, the vast majority of which treat their employees with dignity and want to work cooperatively with them.
But Amazon does not fall into that category. Its workers are right to suspect that its management doesn’t have their best interests in mind. Wealthy woke CEOs instead view them as a cog in a machine that consistently prioritizes global profit margins and stoking cheap culture wars. The company’s workers deserve better.
Marco Antonio Rubio is a Republican senator from Florida.