June 23, 2021

Whitehouse Slams Partisan SCOTUS Decision Hampering Agricultural Workers’ Ability to Organize for Better Pay, Working Conditions

Senator led colleagues in writing a brief in Cedar Point highlighting the raft of anonymously funded pro-corporate groups pushing the challenge

Washington, DC – Senator Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI), Chair of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee on the Courts, issued the following statement on the Supreme Court’s 6-3 partisan decision today in Cedar Point Nursery v. Hassid that effectively nullifies a California regulation protecting labor unions’ ability to organize agricultural workers:

“The Court that Dark Money Built delivers again for big-money Republican donors. Rather than follow the law and permit workers to pursue better pay and working conditions, the Republican justices chose to hand another victory to big-money special interests, just as the armada of dark-money amicus groups in this case instructed. This ruling is the product of a proven strategy by the dark-money operation to control the Court: recruit a plaintiff of convenience; try to lose in the lower courts to push the issue before the Supreme Court; assemble a flotilla of dark-money-funded amicus groups to instruct the justices on how to rule; and land a sweeping judgement cementing their position in constitutional law. That’s how they achieve through the Court’s power what would never be possible through the branches of government accountable to the public.”

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 pitted 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 sought 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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