Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Amazon wins: Corporations and their Government Backers 9, Workers 0

German workers strike Amazon three times last year
by Mike Benca
San Leandro Worker's Club
Member OE Local 3 Highway Maintenance Worker

Yesterday’s Supreme Court ruling in favor of Amazon should destroy any illusions workers may have as to whether either of the two corporate backed political parties in any way  represent our interests.  Readers of this blog will certainly not be surprised to learn of the 9-0 ruling in favor of the boss. 

All nine Justices, (including Obama's two nominees, the darlings of the American Liberals, Kagan and Sotomayor) ruled on the side of Amazon in its blatant wage theft from an already embarrassingly low paid workforce.  The lawsuit brought on behalf of Amazon’s employees argued that while workers wait in up to 30 minute in lines to go through mandated security check points for alleged theft, Amazon claims they are not entitled to wages because waiting in line is not "integral to the warehouse work of handling and sorting boxes "  (Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the unanimous opinion) 

I worked for a few years at a Home Depot in California and can relate to having to wait for the store manager to navigate the large building and whatever else he was doing so he could unlock the store's doors late at night to let out the workers. I remember myself and coworkers being agitated at this annoying inconvenience.  Although, I have no children to rush home and tend to, I remember having some discussions with some of my female coworkers on how they just wanted to get "out of this place so they could go home to their little ones" some of these female coworkers' husbands and mothers were waiting for them to get home so they could go to work.

Is it any wonder we have such violence, mass incarceration, (particularly people of color) failing schools, teen truancy and pregnancy, massive disparities in wealth, poverty, stress, and substance abuse in this country?  Although this ruling may seem of little importance in the wider scheme of things, I believe it exemplifies the assault against us and only exacerbates the issues raised above increasing the amount of stress workers and their families are left to live with in this country.  Imagine having to wait for even 10 minutes to leave work for just a few days a week.  The time stolen from the worker and their family quickly adds up!  

This case highlights how workers cannot depend on the electoral process or courts to help us confront the offensive being waged against us by big business and their lackeys in government.  Only mass direct action by the working class can turn back the assault. 

I learned of this ruling yesterday while operating my work truck with one of my coworkers who is originally from Russia.  As I explained what I knew of the case he exclaimed, Wow, 9-0! In his heavy Russian accent, "Does nobody care about labor in this country?"  We went on to discuss how it appears big business and the corporate state is clearly not that afraid of "big labor" at this point in time in our country.  We discussed how these workers should have a militant union that was willing to call the workers out on strike and demand they be compensated while waiting in line to leave work.

This is just one of the causes the union leadership should be taking up but are obviously not doing so and when they do take up issues like these, they do not do so in a meaningful, effective way.  Going to the courts for justice just does not seem that viable of an option, especially in light of what has happened recently in the US in regards to police brutality.  Only a wakening of the workers and their consciousness and organizing and waging mass direct action will stop the assault on workers and their families.  

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