Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Supreme Court Sides With Wal-Mart--Surprised?

The Supreme Court ruled in favor of Wal-Mart in a sex discrimination class action lawsuit affecting 1.5 million current and former female employees seeking billions in damages. Democracy Now called it a major victory for corporate America.

Should we be surprised?

Of course not.

The Supreme Court was just carrying out its mandate. It and all branches of government were created to protect the property rights of the richest and most powerful members of society (See Kids May Not Know Democracy, But They Know A Bum Deal When They See It). The Supreme Court, specifically, has a long and sordid history of ruling against workers’ rights, safety and wellbeing. However, the current Court has been particularly hostile to labor.

What is our recourse as workers?

We can continue to try to use the courts when necessary. Occasionally they rule in our favor (more often in the lower courts.) However, there is no substitute for direct action. It is the only effective tool labor has to defend its interests. Effective direct action, though, requires an organized, educated and militant workforce, something that currently does not exist in most industries because the unions have largely abandoned this tactic in favor of litigation and campaign financing. For example, in many teachers unions there are no full-time organizers within the locals who meet with teachers on a regular basis. 

Organize! Educate! Agitate! Mobilize! Strike!

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