High Court Ruling Hurts Union Goals of Immigrants
In a shattering defeat for organized labor, immigrant rights groups, and undocumented workers throughout the country, the Supreme Court ruled yesterday that undocumented immigrants fired for union activities are not protected by the National Labor Relations Act (see WIT for Feb. 19, 2002). Writing for the majority in the bitterly divided five-four decision in Hoffman Plastic v. National Labor Relations Board, No. 00-1595, Chief Justice William Rehnquist found that the defendant company was not liable for back pay---which along with reinstatement is the usual remedy for firing a worker based on union activity---because the fired worker was an undocumented immigrant who got the job using false identification. The four dissenting justices, along with labor and immigrant rights leaders, have condemned the majority ruling in the case as allowing employers to higher undocumented immigrant workers for extremely low wages and fire them if they attempted to organize---a tactic which depresses wages for all workers.