As organized labor leaders negotiate new contracts, they should be wary of an emboldened employer tactic seeking waivers of employee participation in class actions against the employer. Here’s a prime example of how elections have consequences, which many members likely never considered how policy changes in Washington can affect their and their families’ lives. With the election of Donald Trump, the National Relations Board has done a 180 degree turn in construing labor policy now upsetting precedent which protected workers. Secondly, the composition of the US Supreme Court makes the odds favorable for no longer banning this employer practice. But collective bargaining agreements need not agree to take away the rights of the unit members to participate in these class action lawsuits. A prevalent use of this litigation is over wage and hour disputes, as one example.
The United States Department of Justice announced last week it will switch over its support in the upcoming Supreme Court case, NLRB v. Murphy Oil, from the National Labor Relations Board to Murphy Oil. The issue, set for the 2017 October Court’s term, is whether arbitration agreements with individual employees that ban employees from pursuing employment claims on a class or collective basis (class action waivers) violate the NLRA. Under President Obama, the DOJ wrote an amicus brief (friend of the court brief) in support of the NLRB, which had ruled that such arbitration agreements did indeed violate the NLRA. But, as the DOJ states in its re-filed brief, “after the change in administration, the office reconsidered the issue and has reached the opposite conclusion.” The DOJ now argues that “nothing in the NLRA’s legislative history indicates that Congress intended to bar enforcement of arbitration agreements like those at issue here.” (Thanks to Vivian Dong)
Right to work
When Missouri’s legislature passed a bill with the false slogan “right to work,” it was not representing the interests of working Missourians. It attacks everyone with one purpose: destroy your chances to achieve success. It limits your civil rights and destroys the freedoms of association that have resulted in improved safety and training, reasonable working conditions and fair pay without regard to sex or ethnicity.
Concerned citizens, community leaders and businesses are standing up to this punitive law. Signatures are being gathered on an initiative petition, which would allow registered voters to decide the future of our state. Will we be allowed to reject a law that attacks the civil rights of all?
You, your family and your friends can participate in the process to secure a citizens vote throughout Kansas City and Missouri. Call a union office, your church or your state representative’s or senator’s office for directions.
Should the wealthiest control your ability to provide improved opportunities for your family? When was the last time a millionaire looked out for your best interests?
To answer that question, ask yourself this first. When was the last time billionaires looked out for you, your family, or your friends? If you believe that your vote for the president or a state governor doesn’t matter, then the billionaires win. Instead, think of their actions, not promises, to see who is looking out for you. Start by looking at Right to Work legislation.
Those who tout this legislation as benefitting workers engage in “alternate facts.” In other words, they lie. Lipstick on a pig doesn’t make the pig something else. Everyone already has a right to work in America. So, just the phrase alone is that lipstick. There are many unbiased studies which demonstrate that RTW states have lower average household incomes; lower health and all other forms of insurance coverage; higher death rates of children and greater poverty rates of its citizens. Why would a worker or a well-meaning legislator support RTW laws? Because they are misled into believing it will help them or their economy.
In Missouri, a RTW anti-labor bill in the Senate has been passed. Yet, the Missouri Department of Economic Development has shown Missouri’s economy has continued to grow. Missouri State Senator Gina Walsh said recently, “In other states, Right-to-Work has hurt their economy, driven down wages, and stifled job growth. Here in Missouri, we’ve rejected Right-to-Work (in the past), invested in our workforce, and seen record job growth. Supporters (of RTW) have put forward no credible reason for passing this law other than to drive down wages and appease special interests.”
Who is behind Right to Work laws?
Historically, these laws originated to suppress workers, Blacks and Jews. Known as “Jim Crow” laws, these were used to force separate and unequal, but superior, conditions for white workers over those of color, of those who religious beliefs were different. In 1941, a newspaper editorial called for banning closed shops, and a white supremacist quickly seized upon that theme and received massive attention. An anti-Jew and self-proclaimed Christian, he railed against labor unions because he was paid to do so by big business.
Over the course of his career, he fought against giving women the right to vote, against protecting our children in the workplace, and sought to repeal the 8 hour work day. He was financed over the years by anti President Franklin Roosevelt financiers, the billionaires. His message of anti-Semitism, racism, anti-Communism and anti-unionism was received with open arms in the South.
Today’s crop of billionaires and multi-millionaires – Koch Brothers, Sheldon Adelson, David Humphreys, just to name a few, are financiers supportive of the efforts to silence the strength of collective bargaining through anti-union legislation. An organization known as ALEC — the American Legislative Exchange Council — influences state politicians to vote behind closed doors to try to rewrite state laws that govern your rights. 98% of its funding comes from the Koch Brothers and their foundations. ALEC and the United States Chamber of Commerce are in favor of turning back the clock on workers’ rights to collectively bargain, and that is why they seek to a return of the anti-unionism days that the bigot Vance Muse made popular seventy years ago.
As you contemplate this article, your job security, and your family’s well-being, ask the questions of those who seek to undermine labor laws. If you substitute just a few words for those attributed to the racist Muse, do you see yourself or your friends and family in these cross-hairs? The support for President Trump and Missouri Governor Greitens, by those who would build a wall and who seek to make it impossible for you to leave your children with a better chance so that corporations can make a better profit, will succeed unless labor rallies and stands together.
Here’s a test to which you know the right answer. Yet, those greedy men with money and their corporations would have you believe they are looking out for yourinterests. Really?
Who died for your right to a 40 hour work week?
A) Corporate Executives
B) Conservative radio talk show
C) Wall Street Bankers
D) Union members
Can you list how have our lives improved because of unions? Here are a few, and all are at risk with RTW and the rest of anti-labor legislation.
- 40 hour work week.
- Children are no longer required to work in sweat shops.
- You can improve security for all through collective bargaining rather than individually trying to negotiate by yourself with your employer.
- Better working conditions
- Higher wages
- Affordable healthcare
- Safer workplace through stronger workers compensation and occupational safety and health laws.
So how do we make and keep America and our states great?
We must do a 180 degree turn from where Governor Greitens, Governor Brownback, and President Trump–and their supporters–are taking us. Our elected officials must:
1. Strengthen unions
2. Raise the minimum wage
3. Stop corporate welfare
4. Bring manufacturing jobs back home
5. Tax companies that hide profits overseas
6. End, not pass, so-called ‘Right-to-Work’ laws
7. Get big money out of state and national politics