Resolution to Tell the US Supreme Court, Big Business, and Corporate Politicians: Hands Off Our Right to Strike!

March 15, 2023

WHEREAS, the right to strike is a fundamental human right and is the most powerful weapon in the hands of workers, and union siblings have fought bravely over the years in numerous battles in the streets and in legislatures to win, defend, and exercise this fundamental democratic right; and

WHEREAS, in the last two years we have seen an upsurge of workers striking—in healthcare, manufacturing, education, transportation, construction, and in new organizing campaigns including coffee workers and warehouse workers; and

WHEREAS, our labor movement has proudly stood with these and other workers as they struck to demand and secure their fundamental rights including good pay and working conditions; and

WHEREAS, the bosses, corporations, and their representatives on the US Supreme Court, recognizing the power of strikes, have always tried to deny or erode the right of workers to strike, through fear tactics; by hiring replacement workers, seeking court injunctions, and trying to pass new laws that limit or outlaw strikes; and even through acts of violence against workers; and

WHEREAS, these attacks on the right to strike, while often aimed at individual groups of workers, are in fact attacks against all of us, since An Injury to One Is an Injury to All; and

WHEREAS, now in 2023, corporations are mounting their most vicious assault on our right to strike in decades, demanding that the U.S. Supreme Court allow employers to sue unions for economic damages resulting from strikes; and

WHEREAS, this case, Glacier Northwest, Inc. vs International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which was argued before the U.S. Supreme Court this January, with an expected Court decision to be issued this spring, comes out of the 2017 strike by our union siblings at Teamsters Local 174, who bravely struck Glacier Northwest over the company’s rampant abuse and intransigence in negotiating a fair contract, and in doing so were standing up for the rights of all construction workers to fair treatment and good working conditions; and

WHEREAS, the company is insisting it should have the right to sue the union for economic damages even though the union concrete workers, in effectuating the strike, returned the concrete mixing trucks to the work yard and kept them running to ensure that the wet concrete would not damage the trucks; and

WHEREAS, the U.S. Supreme Court in 1959 affirmed that employers do not have the right to sue workers or unions for economic damage if the workers are engaging in a lawful strike, or even in a strike that is “arguably” lawful unless the National Labor Relations Board has found the strike to be unprotected; and

WHEREAS, corporate interests now want to overturn this 63-year-old precedent and are demanding the unlimited right to sue striking workers for economic damages, because they realize this will be a potent weapon to wield against unions everywhere; and

WHEREAS, while the particular facts of the legal case involve our Teamsters 174 union siblings, this legal case represents an attack on all of us as an adverse decision will impact all workers and would open the door to bosses filing lawsuits against workers any time they strike, thereby empowering employers, intimidating workers, and preempting strike activities; and

WHEREAS, unions are crucial bulwarks against racism, sexism, transphobia, and other attacks on workers; Black workers have the highest rate of union membership among any racial or ethnic group; Black union workers’ wages are more than 16 percent higher than their non-union counterparts and they are more than 17 percentage points more likely to have employer-provided health insurance, and the right to strike is critical to maintaining and improving upon these benefits and for fighting racism and other forms of discrimination in the workplace; and therefore an attack on the right to strike, no matter what the source, is an attack on our Black, non-white, women, and LGBTQ siblings; and

WHEREAS, many workers are not yet aware of this dangerous assault on our rights, and we have a duty to educate one another about this attack and mobilize ourselves and our fellow workers to speak out and take action; and

WHEREAS, the Glacier Northwest assault on our rights, unfortunately, isn’t an isolated case, but comes in the immediate aftermath of the Biden administration and Congress banning railroad workers from using the sharpest tool, the strike, to fight for a contract that included reasonable sick days; and

WHEREAS, the Glacier Northwest assault isn’t simply a partisan attack on workers, even though we recognize that the US Supreme Court is stacked with Republican appointees, but it’s part of a long-term erosion of our rights due to the combined actions of big business and the political establishment of both major parties;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT MLK Labor commits to educate our members and participate in mobilizing to fight back against this attack on our fundamental rights, by putting materials on our website, in newsletters, and by discussing it at union meetings; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT MLK Labor convenes affected unions to develop tactics and strategies to raise our voices and demonstrate our collective denunciation of the corporate assault, aided by the U.S. Supreme Court, on our fundamental rights; and

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED THAT MLK Labor forwards this resolution to the Washington State Labor Council, AFL-CIO, calling for a day of coordinated actions in our state, and also to the National AFL-CIO, calling for a national Day of Action for the Right to Strike well in advance of the US Supreme Court’s expected date of issuing a ruling in Glacier Northwest.

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