March 23, 2021

Whitehouse Issues Statement on SCOTUS Arguments in Cedar Point Nursery Challenge to Workers’ Rights

Senator led colleagues in filing amicus brief calling out raft of dark-money groups pushing anti-union case

Washington, DC – Today, U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, issued a statement on Supreme Court oral arguments in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid, a major challenge to labor unions’ ability to organize agricultural workers:

“The anti-union business groups behind this case are following a proven formula for success with the Republican appointees on the Roberts Court: find a plaintiff of convenience; force their case through the lower courts, aiming to lose and thrust the issue before the Supreme Court; assemble a flotilla of fellow dark-money-funded amicus groups to instruct the justices on how to rule; and seek a sweeping judgement enshrining their position in constitutional law. That formula has helped to yield over 80 decisions from the Roberts Court where big-money interests land narrow, partisan decisions in their favor. The choice for the justices is whether to dole out another victory to big-money special interests, as the armada of dark-money amicus groups urge in this case, or follow the law and permit workers to pursue better pay and working conditions.”

In February, Whitehouse led a group of five senators in filing a brief in the case pointing to the raft of anonymously funded pro-corporate groups that have helped to guide Cedar Point to the Court, and are now lobbying the justices for an outcome that would not only hinder labor organizing of agricultural workers but undermine a range of important rules and regulations protecting the public. Cases like Cedar Point fit into a troubling pattern of special-interest influence over the Court and American government as a whole.

The case before the Court pits California fruit businesses Cedar Point Nursery and Fowler Packing Company against the California Agricultural Labor Relations Board in a challenge to unions’ access to organize workers. The companies seek to undermine a well-established California regulation that affords union organizers a limited right to access the property of agricultural employers. The regulation takes into account the challenges of reaching farmworkers to help them organize, and has played a vital role in protecting agricultural workers for four decades.

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