Bezos and Musk vs. workers

These corporations win this fight only if the public doesn’t know what’s happening.

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Two of the world’s richest men want to end unions once and for all. 

Musk’s SpaceX and Bezos’ Amazon are both arguing in court that the National Labor Relations Board is unconstitutional on the grounds that it combines judicial and executive functions.

The NLRB is the agency that supervises union organizing and collective bargaining as established by the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 — a cornerstone of FDR’s New Deal that guarantees the right of workers to organize. It is, in effect, the referee of labor management relations.

If Bezos and Musk get their way, two of the richest people in the world will have gutted the enforcement of labor laws designed to protect the right of average workers to unionize. Corporations could fire employees who try to organize, without any repercussions. It could also be a death knell to unions that already exist.

Corporate giants Starbucks and Trader Joe’s have similarly advanced their own legal arguments echoing the same anti-union, anti-worker sentiment. So much for being “progressive” companies, huh?

Beyond their copycat legal arguments, what do all of these corporations have in common? A history of bashing unions and preventing workers from exercising their right to organize.

The NLRB has charged these companies with hundreds of violations of workers’ rights. They’ve fired pro-union workers, retaliated against organizers by cutting their hours, closed stores that tried to unionize, denied benefits being provided to non-union workers, and refused to bargain. And now Musk and Bezos are even going after the referees — the NLRB—  so unions and workers don’t stand a chance.

It’s not the first time their argument has been trotted out by robber barons. A similar case made its way to the Supreme Court way back in 1937. The opinion in that case upheld the NLRB and its decision to punish steel barons who fired workers who tried to organize a union.

Modern-day robber barons Bezos and Musk are hoping today’s Supreme Court will reverse its 1937 ruling and return America to a time before workers had a referee to ensure their rights.

Evidently, it’s not enough for Bezos and Musk to amass more wealth than any two people on the planet. No, they want even more wealth and covet even more power — and don’t want to share it with their workers.

You see, unions are one of the greatest champions of equality. And unions don’t just help unionized workers — they help all workers. There’s a ripple effect that occurs when workers organize: Non-union workers often receive the benefits of higher wages and safer working conditions fought for by organized labor. Unions also play a political role: They provide countervailing power to the overwhelming political power of giant corporations.

We will all suffer if unions are not there to have the backs of workers.

Now these cases may take a while to snake their way through the courts.

In the meantime, please share this video. These corporations win this fight only if the public doesn’t know what’s happening.

And support your local unions. When they go on strike, join a picket line. Better yet, join a union if you can.

We all need to voice our support for organized labor now more than ever.

Read it on Robert Reich’s blog.

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Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fourteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "Saving Capitalism." He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, co-founder of the nonprofit Inequality Media and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, Inequality for All.

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