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Thursday, November 2, 2017

War on workers about to get even worse

Image result for Supreme Court versus workersThe addition of Neil Gorsuch has given conservatives the decisive edge on the Supreme Court that they have sought for many years.

The Janus case is likely to slash the resources of unions. Another case will be a setback for minimum wage workers, those who labor for $7.25 an hour.

These cases together will widen economic inequality and shift greater power to corporations.

“The Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a case that could deal a crushing blow to organized labor.

“It was one of 11 cases the justices added to the court’s docket from the roughly 2,000 petitions seeking review that had piled up during the court’s summer break.

“In the labor case, the court will consider whether public-sector unions may require workers who are not members to help pay for collective bargaining. If the court’s answer is no, unions would probably lose a substantial source of revenue.

“The question was before the justices last year in Friedrichs v. California Teachers Association, and they seemed poised to rule against the unions when the case was argued in January 2016. But the death of Justice Antonin Scalia the next month resulted in a 4-to-4 deadlock.“

Slate reports:

“In recent years, the nationwide Fight for $15 movement has succeeded in persuading several states and cities to raise their hourly minimum wages well above the federal minimum of $7.25. But the effort to ensure a living wage for workers may be headed for a serious setback in the U.S. Supreme Court. Depending on how they rule in a case set for argument next week, the justices could make it much more difficult for millions of workers to secure even the meager wages guaranteed by existing federal law.

“On Monday, the day that kicks off the Supreme Court’s new term, the justices will hear arguments in three consolidated cases with far-reaching implications for wage-earners. The cases—Epic Systems Corp. v. Lewis, Ernst & Young LLP v. Morris, and National Labor Relations Board v. Murphy Oil USA, Inc.—are all about whether employers have the right to compel workers go through onerous individual arbitration proceedings in order to bring labor law claims. If the justices answer that question in the affirmative, then the affected workers will—as a practical matter—find it nearly impossible to win back pay in cases involving wage law violations.

“In the typical case involving wage law violations—such as when a firm makes employees work off the clock, pays less than the minimum wage, or fails to pay extra for overtime—plaintiffs bring what’s called a collective action (similar, but not identical to, a class action) in order to recover back pay from a common employer. Each worker’s claim might be worth only a few hundred or few thousand dollars, but when the defendant is a large firm with lots of similarly situated employees, the collective action might be worth millions. So while virtually no lawyer would want to take on an individual case on behalf of such a plaintiff, it’s much easier to find competent counsel to litigate a potentially more lucrative collective action.

“To pre-empt this possibility, more and more firms are inserting individual arbitration clauses into employee contracts. These clauses require employees to pursue workplace-related claims before private arbitrators rather than in federal or state court. These clauses also, critically, require employees to pursue their claims individually rather than through collective actions.”

These are victories long sought by the most reactionary elements of the most powerful elites in America. ALEC, the Koch brothers, the DeVos family, and all those collectively known as “Dark Money” are close to achieving one of their most cherished goals, the victory of capital over labor.