Alito is not a worker's best friend
Published: Monday, January 23, 2006
Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 18:01
Sometimes I really question the Bush administration's sanity. In an environment rife with scandal, false claims of morality, a falling approval rating, and the quagmire that is Iraq, someone gets the bright idea to appoint Samuel Alito, Jr. to the Supreme Court. When one looks at the 15-year-long paper trail he's left behind, one realizes that this is a man who consistently rules on the side of big business, many times as a sole dissenter. There are many instances in which Alito has passed down a ruling that some would consider backward and openly favoritist to the corporations that the current administration holds so dear, but here are a few of my personal favorites:
LePage v. 3M - Alito finds for the monopolist defendants facing anti-trust charges … twice.
• Donahue v. Consolidated Rail Corp. - Alito rules that the employer can discriminate against a man with a disability (e.g. a heart condition) in hiring for any job in the company to "protect the public safety."
• Reich v. Gateway Press - In a case that that involves violations of minimum wage and overtime laws, Alito seeks to exempt newspaper workers from protections under federal law.
• Homar v. Gilbert - Alito rules that suspension without a hearing and without pay doesn't violate the right of federal workers to due process.
• Federal Labor Relations Authority - Alito seeks to disable an organizing drive by refusing to give a union access to the names and addresses of the employees it was trying to organize.
• DiGiacomo v. Teamsters Pension Trust Fund - Alito finds that a union worker employed in a union position from 1960-1971, and again from 1978 on, should lose his credit for pension benefits from the early years of his employment due to a break in service, even though the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act says otherwise.
These are just a few of the many pro-corporate, blatantly discriminatory anti-labor rulings that Alito has passed down over the years. But perhaps the best example and one with a real current significance is a case that came before Alito regarding the safety of mine workers. In RNS Services v. Secretary of Labor, Alito was again the sole dissenting vote. If the court would have ruled with Alito, it would have found that a mining company violating the Federal Mine Safety and Health Act many times over, at the risk of all the employees, was exempt from these laws: not because it was different than any other mine in the United States, but because it was associated with a coal processing plant, which had nothing to do with the safety violations in the mine. That just isn't a logical connection.
In the wake of the Sago mine tragedy, there has been a lot of finger pointing. Some point to the corporation and the more than 200 safety violations that it allowed in its facility. Others point to the Bush administration and the $7 million cuts it made this past year in the budget of the Mine Safety and Health Administration, an already understaffed agency. A Bush administration spokesman cited that it was the miners' own reckless behavior that led to their deaths. Whatever the cause, we must ask ourselves, "Is Sam Alito, a man that has repeatedly found against the working men and women of the United States, a man that we want as a Supreme Court justice?" Frankly, it's an outrage to nominate a man who rules against the blue collar workers that built this nation out of their own sweat and blood to the highest court in the nation.
I was relieved, however, to find out that the families of the miners killed in the Sago mine explosion are in the president's prayers. That's comforting to know. We need not pay attention to the fact that while Bush puts on his publicity face for the cameras, his recommendation to the Supreme Court is Samuel Alito, Jr. While smiling at the cameras, gushing about the American spirit, and pointing fingers (one of the things Bush does best), he has recommended a man to the Supreme Court who is the biggest enemy of blue collar workers on the bench.
Melissa Roberts is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences.