We could be running against Neil Gorsuch for the next 50 years
The theft you’re most likely to experience is wage theft. And Neil Gorsuch just made it more likely that it will happen to you and you’ll never be able to recover your losses.
The Supreme Court issued a 5–4 decision Monday in Epic Systems v. Lewis allowing employers to deprive their workers of their right to sue collectively. Its ruling, written by Justice Neil Gorsuch, blasts a massive hole through post–New Deal labor law, hobbling employees’ ability to recover in court when their employers underpay them. It is difficult to overstate how devastating Epic Systems is to labor rights in America—and how far Gorsuch strays from federal law in order to implement his preferred economic policy.
This is a blow to workers’ rights that’s almost impossible to minimize. Researchers at the Economic Policy Institute estimated that “low-wage workers in the United States lost more than $50 billion to all forms of wage theft in 2016.”
Even when they aren’t stolen, wages have sagged against other other leading indicators for decades, especially CEO pay. We are in the midst of de-industrialization due to globalization and technology that only promises get worse as our biggest companies utilize fewer and fewer employees, innovation wipes out whole industries and fifty years of effective conservative politicking continue to decimate the power of labor in favor of capital.
To put this in environmental terms, this isn’t like Trump pulling out of the Paris Accord. This is like Trump being elected and staying in power to implement a polluters’ agenda for the next 40-50 years, which is how long you can expect Gorsuch to be on the Supreme Court, along with any other Court appointments this president makes.
There has been a War on Work that has been waged for generations, one that favors corporations over workers, investors over employees and inheriting over earning. And the result is an economy where top 1 percent soak up all of the gains and use that to do things like donate $24.6 million to the GOP in the midst of the tax code being rewritten, likely in exchange for taxpayer-funded paybacks that will deliver multiples on that investment.
Instead of doing anything to help secure the 200 million or so of course who see a future where even full-time employment is an artifact of the past, we’re seeking to add to the 43 million who already live in poverty tens of millions more who have been doomed to a live where their boss can steal their wages with little fear of ever being stopped.
Fighting the War on Work is a lot like fight climate change in that both are fights for survival — and both are fights that have immediate rewards, regardless if you buy into the predictions of horrors we may not live to see. Robots may never take our jobs and Florida may never be swallowed by the sea but an empowered working class is the only way to fight our freedom from another Gilded Age just as sensible steps to fight carbon pollution make healthier and less dependent on some of the most malignant forces in the world.
That’s why it’s important to see every potential Democratic 2020 front-runner backing Senator Senators’ Workplace Democracy Act, a package of overdue labor reforms:
The bill would allow employees to form a union by a majority sign-up process, rather than an election (which proponents say heightens the risk of employer meddling); require companies to negotiate with a new union within 10 days of receiving a request; mandate that workers in every state pay some dues to unions that represent them; and expand the law’s definition of “employer,” a hotly debated term as the country’s contractor workforce expands.
These are all needed steps to fight the War Against Work, but the most simple premise Democrats need to be fighting for is that your employer doesn’t have the right to steal from you, no matter what Neil Gorsuch, in his stolen seat, says.
Unfortunately, this is a message that may need to be repeated over and over again for years, if not decades.