July 14: This Week in Labor

Supreme Court slaps workers

The Supreme Court, determined to roll back living standards for workers and strengthen corporate power and control, issued another ruling that does just that. On June 26, the court abandoned a 96-year ban on manufacturers and retailers conspiring to set price floors for products.

In an absurd 5-4 decision, the court said that “agreements” on minimum prices are legal “if they promote competition.” The ruling means that corporations can get together to fix prices and that accusations that they engage in minimum pricing pacts will have to be evaluated case by case.

The labor movement has cause to be concerned. In California, three large supermarket chains got together four years ago to set price floors and form a “pact” to fight union demands for a fair contract. The state attorney general sued them in court for violating antitrust laws. The companies are doing it again this year and appear, this time, to have the Supreme Court on their side.

“The only safe predictions to make about today’s decision are that it will likely raise the price of goods at retail,” Justice Stephen Breyer wrote in dissent.

It is the fourth antitrust ruling by the court in the last four months. In each case the court sided with the corporations, including Wall Street investment banks and an international forest products company.



Clean up your dirty laundry!

United Students Against Sweatshops is urging everyone to send letters or e-mails to Rich Noll, the CEO of the multinational Hanes underwear company.

In April, the management of the TOS Dominicana Factory, a Hanes subcontractor in the Dominican Republic, carried out a mass firing of union members — part of an ongoing campaign to terrorize workers into abandoning their right to organize. This campaign has also included harassment and intimidation, spying on workers outside of the factory, and refusing to recognize and bargain in good faith with the union.

Workers are organizing to correct serious violations, including forced and unpaid overtime, verbal harassment, and coercion of workers to sign documents giving up employment benefits and their right to complain about illegal practices.

Hanes has done nothing to correct the situation, and Students Against Sweatshops urges everyone to tell the Hanes CEO to clean up his dirty laundry at TOS Dominicana.

For more information, readers are urged to go to .

From Aug. 10-12, students will gather in Detroit for the USAS Summer Retreat. The gathering will focus on how to pressure universities into greater respect for workers’ rights. For more information: .

Compiled by John Wojcik (jwojcik @pww.org).