The Supreme Court continued its quest to eviscerate labor rights with an anti-union decision released Wednesday in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, but it’s more than that. The decision overturned a California regulation allowing union representatives to visit agricultural properties to talk to farmworkers at specific times when they won’t interrupt work, with the court ruling that this “constitutes a per se physical taking of the employer’s property, which in practical terms means union organizers will no longer have the right to access the farms where farmworkers are employed,” the Economic Policy Institute summarized.
That’s a blow to union organizing. But it’s potentially far more dangerous, Elie Mystal writes at The Nation: “The argument Roberts and the conservatives used against union organizers in this case was effectively repurposed from arguments segregationists used against civil rights activists. By giving it new life, Roberts has not only opened the door to continued union-busting but also reinvigorated long-discredited views of how property owners might use that property as an excuse to deny civil rights across the spectrum.”
The conservative majority could have used other arguments to rule for the employer in this case, Mystal explains. But they used an expansive argument used by segregationists against the Civil Rights Act: “The Supreme Court rejected that argument, unanimously, in 1964, but Roberts resurrected it yesterday. All of a sudden, the right to exclude is back on the table as something that property owners can use to thwart basic human rights, and we’d be foolish to think that this rollback of rights will stop with farm workers in California.”
Scary stuff, and for all the celebration that Roberts and the conservatives allowed the Affordable Care Act to stand, a serious warning about the direction the court is headed.