The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Supreme Court Attacks the Right to Strike

Jun 12, 2023

In 2017, workers organized by the Teamsters in Washington State struck a concrete company called Glacier Northwest. There was wet concrete in some trucks, which had to be thrown out.

The company sued the union, claiming workers had timed the strike so that the company would lose money.

After Washington State courts ruled in the union’s favor, the U.S. Supreme Court took up this case. At the beginning of June, it ruled in favor of the company. Eight of the nine justices agreed to make the Teamsters pay damages—including Justices Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kagan, two of the supposed “liberals” on the court.

In the 1930s, in the face of a massive workers movement, the government passed a series of laws that made it possible to strike legally—though only under certain very particular conditions. These laws were aimed at reining in the workers movement, keeping it within bounds that would not threaten the capitalist system and boxing in the new and growing unions by giving them a narrow legal path to strike.

Ever since then, the government has been further limiting the already very limited legal right to strike, step by step. With this decision, the Supreme Court has taken a big step toward throwing it out altogether.

To launch any kind of effective fight on the scale that is needed, workers will have to go past the legal framework “granted” by the government. When workers do so, they will have to be ready to face not just the corporations, but also the government that works in the corporations’ interests.