In a 5 to 4 decision, the United States Supreme Court ruled on Monday, March, 21st, that private sector employers can prohibit their own workers from uniting together as one group to legally challenge any violation of federal labor laws. The court’s five conservative justices, John Roberts, Neil Gorsuch, Clarence Thomas, Anthony Kennedy, and Samuel Alito, sided with the private sector companies being sued in the matter by the plaintiffs, Ernst & Young LLP, Epic Systems Corporation, and Murphy Oil USA Incorporated. The court’s remaining four liberal justices, Stephen Breyer, Elena Kagan, Sonia Sotomayor, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg,
In the majority opinion authored by Gorsuch, a Trump judicial appointee, the court’s ruling indicates that the 1925 Federal Arbitration Act, meant to establish judicial facilitation of private disputation resolutions through arbitration instead of going to court, surpasses the 1935 National Labor Relations Act, which allows workers to sue together in the form of class action through collective bargaining rights and other legal protections to organize in the workplace. Gorsuch further wrote that employees who sign contractable employment agreements between their main employer to arbitrate claims must do so on an individual basis instead of class action to enforce legal claims of wage, hour, and other federal labor violations.
In the dissenting opinion written by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a Clinton judicial, appointee, the ruling, in particular, would undermine current federal, state, and local laws that aim to protect vulnerable workers, and that many of these claims made by workers are small, therefore often fear retaliation from the employers and use class action collective lawsuits instead.
Sometime in June, the Supreme Court will hear a case where it will determine whether union membership dues in public sector unions are mandatory or optional. Many judicial experts have indicated that if the court makes union membership dues in public sector unions optional rather than mandatory, these particular labor organizations, who primarily support Democrats or progressive ballot initiatives, maybe weaken politically and possibly legally if they lack sufficient financial funds for either administrative or legal work involving organized labor in the public sector.
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