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Fear and Loathing at the Supreme Court

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Union organizing could suffer a devastating blow by the U.S. Supreme Court this term.

In November, justices hear a case on labor-management “neutrality pacts” — agreements which spell out each side’s role in organizing. Usually, this means employers are barred from engaging in overt anti-union practices and accept some form of  “card check” certification.

Unions use neutrality pacts to reduce the legal entanglements and employer intimidation that have become widespread in National Labor Relations Board-supervised elections.

After years of struggle, UNITE HERE, for example, recently pressured Hyatt Hotels to accept neutrality terms. And unions in Los Angeles, when possible, make such deals in return for support of large development projects.

It’s been a bad decade (and a bad half-century) for the American labor movement:

Union membership percentages continuing to slide, states restrict public sector bargaining and right-to-work laws have spread.

The case before the Court is technical and may not produce a sweeping ruling. But it’s certainly possible that a majority of justices seize the opportunity to blunt one of labor’s few remaining weapons.

(This post first appeared on Labor Lou and is republished with permission.)

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