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September 21, 2004

Some Good Labor News for a Change

Two good pro-worker decisions in state courts announced in the last couple of days.

First, the Minnesota Court of Appeals announced that an employer could not sue workers whose goal in being hired was to organize the employer's workforce, even if they lied on the application about previous employment at union firms. The court declared that the law protects the right of so-called union "salts" to conceal activity involved pro-union activity under federal labor law. Instead, the NLRB has exclusive jurisdiction to decide whether an employee has suffered unfair retaliation and the employer has no right to use state courts to supersede the authority of the NLRB. (See BNA - registration required).

The second labor win was by undocumented workers in the unlikely location of the Georgia Court of Appeals. The 12-member court ruled that the federal Immigration Reform and Control Act, which bars employers from knowingly hiring undocumented workers, does not preempt Georgia's workers' compensation laws. So injured immigrant workers have the right to be compensated when injured, whether in the US legally or not. As the judge's decision stated:

"To allow an employer to reap the benefit of an employee's services (even when such services are rendered by an illegal alien), without holding the employer responsible for the payment of workers' compensation benefits when the employee is injured on the job, would break the social contract between the employer and its employee and undermine the entire purpose of Georgia's Workers' Compensation Act."
We can dwell on the bad decisions-- and there are a lot of them-- but through good political work in a lot of states, these kinds of decisions make a big difference in workers lives.

Posted by Nathan at September 21, 2004 10:49 PM