The Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) just proved there are devastating consequences for failing to exercise one’s right to vote.
Tens of millions of Americans in the private sector have been stripped of their ability to bargain collectively when forced to endure business violations of federal labor laws.
The 5-4 decision was tipped to the right by – you guessed it – conservative Justice Neil Gorsuch. Trump nominated Gorsuch to replace the late Antonin Scalia before he departed this world and began his journey to the bowels of hell, where the notorious bigot belongs.
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Gorsuch sits in the seat which should be occupied by Merrick Garland, who was tapped by then-President Obama to take over for Scalia during Obama’s presidency. Senator Mitch McConnell vowed at the time to obstruct any attempt to appoint Garland in the off chance that a Republican would somehow secure the White House.
An edict of the era which predicted the financial collapse of 1929 and against which the labor movement fought back in the ‘30s is, according to the conservative justices, the way to go.
“The policy may be debatable but the law is clear: Congress has instructed that arbitration agreements like those before us must be enforced as written. While Congress is of course always free to amend this judgment, we see nothing suggesting it did so in the NLRA—much less that it manifested a clear intention to displace the Arbitration Act. Because we can easily read Congress’s statutes to work in harmony, that is where our duty lies.”
Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg wrote the dissenting opinion and called the decision “egregiously wrong,” an opinion five pages longer than that of the majority which she delivered from the bench to indicate a particularly staunch dissent.
She, too, noted that the 1925 arbitration law precedes all federal labor laws and therefore should not cover “take-it-or-leave-it” employment provisions employers demand prior to a prospective employee’s ability to begin work.
The inevitable result, she warned, is that there will be huge underenforcement of federal and state statutes designed to advance the well being of workers.
“[T]he edict that employees with wage and hours claims may seek relief only one-by-one does not come from Congress, It is the result of take-it-or-leave-it labor contracts harking back to the type called ‘yellow dog,’ and of the readiness of this Court to enforce those unbargained-for agreements. The FAA demands no such suppression of the right of workers to take concerted action for their ‘mutual aid or protection.'”
The ruling stems from three separate but similar cases against Ernst & Young LLP, Epic Systems Corporation and Murphy Oil USA, Inc.
In each case, individual employees, as a condition of employment, were required to waive their rights to join a class-action suit. This condition creates a David v. Goliath situation, except in this instance Goliath is a multi-million dollar conglomerate with endless access to capital and David is a minimum wage employee who was already subject to wage theft and can’t afford legal fees.
Realizing that, employees at all three companies tried to sue together to improve their chances of winning and doing so affordably.
Employees cited the labor movement of the ‘30s and pointed to the National Labor Relations Act in their defense, which the businesses countered by pointing to the anti-labor law ten years its senior.
The Economic Policy institute released a study showing 56 percent of non-union private sector employees hanged in the balance of this decision. With Gorsuch’s deciding vote, tens of millions of American workers have been completely undercut.
Ginsburg urged Congress to correct the majority’s error, elevating the will of the business higher than the right of the individual. Given the current majority and stagnancy there, it’s not likely – at least, not until the November elections.
If Democrats succeed in taking back the House and Senate, this disastrous decision could be as short-lived as one of Trump’s marriages.