The AFL-CIO knocked Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) for backing the push for Amazon unionization at an Alabama plant while simultaneously opposing a federal bill aimed at offering protections for employees trying to unionize.

“Positive words for workers organizing at Amazon are welcome, but positive actions for workers organizing everywhere distinguish true champions from political pandering,” AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka said in a statement Friday.

“If you oppose the PRO Act, then you’re not pro-worker and you’re not pro-union,” he added.

Rubio became the first major GOP lawmaker to back the unionization fight at Amazon’s Bessemer, Ala., plant in a USA Today op-ed Friday.

The piece did not defend the nascent union effort because of its push for worker rights. Rather, Rubio’s argument focused on Amazon being an ally “of the left in the culture war.” At one point he said that “adversarial relations between labor and management are wrong.”

“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,” he argued.

Rubio blasted Amazon after it stopped selling a book criticized as being transphobic and blocked organizations deemed hate groups by the Southern Poverty Law Center from its Amazon Smile charity program.

Workers at the Bessemer plant have been agitating against exhausting work quotas, insufficient wages and a perceived failure to protect them from the coronavirus pandemic.

Some other labor leaders welcomed Rubio’s support.

“We welcome support from all quarters,” said Stuart Applebaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, which is conducting the unionization drive. 

“Senator Rubio’s support demonstrates that the best way for working people to achieve dignity and respect in the workplace is through unionization,” he continued. “This should not be a partisan issue.”

Trumka has been an ardent supporter of the PRO Act, which is aimed at strengthening workers’ right to unionize and punishing employers who violate labor rights.

The AFL-CIO on Thursday called for Senate Democrats to abolish the filibuster if it becomes clear that Republicans will block the PRO Act.

The legislation passed through the House earlier this week on a nearly party-line vote, with five Republicans backing it.

Rubio’s chief of staff defended the senator in a tweet Friday responding to Trumka, asking, “How many dues-paying members of @AFLCIO agree that your support for open borders and woke ideology is ‘pro-worker’?”

The AFL-CIO supports immigration reform, according to its website, but does not back “open borders.”

The Hill has reached out to Rubio’s office for further comment.

Tags AFL-CIO Amazon Amazon union vote Marco Rubio Richard Trumka Union workers
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