The courts will come for us, but only if we let them


Last week, attorneys representing the National Labor Relations Board and attorneys representing Starbucks — the coffee giant currently embroiled in the third year of organizing efforts across the county — made their arguments before the Supreme Court and I’m sad to say that this court, packed with justices hostile to Organized Labor, appears poised to side with billionaires instead of workers.

I won’t get into the nitty gritty details of the case, which has to do with what legal standard the NLRB has to meet to mandate that an employer reinstate workers terminated during an organizing campaign. The details are dull and bogged down with complex legalese, but the result of siding with Starbucks would mean that once again another powerful government institution is making it harder for workers to have their voice heard on the job.

The court will spend the next few weeks hearing multiple other cases. There’s rarely a Supreme Court session that doesn’t have some case that can either help or hurt everyday workers like you, my partners of Local 655. What disappoints me is I know in my heart there are good number of Local 655 partners that have voted for the people responsible for making the Supreme Court look like it looks today. One that former President Trump nominated and our Missouri U.S. senators confirmed to the bench.

While I understand that my local 655 partners have voted for those individuals for personal reasons, what truly disappoints me is that there are Local 655 and other working class Missourians and Americans that truly believe that voting for a group of individuals like this is in their work life’s best interest and that’s just not true.

If you question that in any way, I ask you only to watch for the ruling that I’m sure has already been agreed upon by the conservative majority of the Supreme Court and see which side they fall on once again, average workers or billionaire corporations. As I’ve said time and time again, I am and I always will encourage all eligible voters to vote. But be honest with yourself and what effect a vote has on your work life.

The men and women on the court poised to strike a blow to working people — a blow that is added to the long list of attacks we’ve suffered lately — got there because elected officials put them there.

If you find yourself angry about how working people consistently get the short end of the stick, ask yourself who is responsible for those attacks? Ask yourself if you voted for the people that did this, or voted for the people that put these judges in power.

I spoke recently at my Shop Steward Seminar about politics. I didn’t do it because I like wading into the minefield of modern politics but because I wouldn’t be doing my job representing my union family if I didn’t explain some obvious truths: there are people you can vote for that will attack working people and unions and there are people you can vote for that support them.

I know voting can complicated. There are issues you care about that extend far outside of your union-related concerns. You might feel strongly about gun rights or restrictions, or perhaps you feel animated about the conflict in Israel, or maybe you have strong views on reproductive rights and abortion.

If those issues are what matters most then your vote will reflect that. I respect that. What I cannot simply abide by is the idea that people who claim that the working American is their top priority when they knowingly elect politicians who would butcher worker safety rules, embrace national so-called “right-to-work” laws, crush worker organizing rights, gut private sector unions and side with corporations at every turn.

You can vote however you like. I imagine that many of the people that read this are people who agree with me, and I imagine many of you do not. That’s ok. In many ways it’s beautiful. I am fortunate enough to lead an organization that is vast and diverse and filled with good people with so many different ideas and backgrounds that I’m humbled to even get a chance to represent you.

Before we know it, it’ll be time for primary and general election in Missouri and across the country. What will determine your vote? What issue will drag you to your polling place?

I won’t tell you how to vote or what to believe or explain the issues to you. You don’t need that. What you should know is that there are politicians who genuinely fight for working people and there are ones that don’t. Let’s remember that many of them have voting records. It’s easy to claim you care about the working man, but what does your vote say?

Cast your vote. Allow your inner compass to guide you when you make a decision.

But ask yourself when the time comes “who is on my side, and who is just pretending?”

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