The Supreme Court pro-corporation, anti-worker, decision on May 21, 2018, was a giant step toward fascism. The nastiest five judges ruled that employers may force all employees (that’s almost all of us) to abide by their orders without recourse to the courts or to class action lawsuits.
The bosses call it “mandatory arbitration,” but Ruth Bader Ginsburg, speaking for the dissenting four judges, called it “egregiously wrong.” In almost all aspects of American life, a citizen has the right to sue to enforce laws, but not any more.
The days of big class-action lawsuits to enforce civil rights or civil liberties laws in the workplace are gone. Every individual with a grievance will now be forced to face the corporate lawyers alone and in a corporate-dominated arbitration procedure! Shortchanged by your boss? Ripped off by your boss? Sexually harassed by your boss? Racially persecuted by your boss? Tough luck!
Individual workers’ grievances rarely amount to enough money to make it worth a lawyer’s time; consequently, few workers will even be able to find a lawyer. Something similar happened in Texas when workers’ comp cases in Texas were put under mandatory arbitration — injured workers couldn’t get legal representation!
What Will Happen?
A lot of big employers have already persecuted their employees with these arrangements. Now, nearly all of them will. Workers will have a choice: sign your rights away or forget about this job!
If working conditions are poor in America today, expect them to get worse. If bosses flout the law today, expect them to flout it more.
If right is right, a lot more working people are going to investigate unionizing. Union workers usually solve their grievances under arbitration, too, but the system is set up under rigorous labor laws, and the union can still appeal to the courts.
Whether or not a big increase in union organizing really happens depends partly on whether or not workers realize the full extent of their most recent screwing. That means that we are going to have to make a robust organizing effort, and that will be difficult after the pounding our unions have taken since 1980.
The Supreme Court’s next big labor decision, in the hands of the same guys, may be a major attack on union finances. That would make a major national organizing effort even more difficult.
But organizing is exactly what has to be done. Everyone who can feel the hot breath of fascism drawing near needs to rally around the working class. Those who can form unions must form them. Those who cannot form unions must join constituency or auxiliary groups associated with labor. If that happens, and it is what must happen, then we cannot be defeated.
I’m on KNON radio 89.3FM in North Texas every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. Podcasts can be found under the “events” tab on the web site. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site.