In a recent case, Integrity Staffing Solutions v. Busk, the Supreme Court ruled that a company doesn’t always have to pay its workers.
Employees at Amazon are required to be screened before they can leave at the end of the day. This is so they can’t steal merchandise. The wait time to be screened can last up to twenty-five minutes. The workers are not paid for this time. Some workers sued to have this changed. (They sued Integrity Staffing Solutions, which supplies Amazon with workers.)
The court ruled against the workers, 9-0. That’s right, the liberal justices, including the recently beatified Ruth Bader Ginsburg, joined this decision. The opinion was written by Clarence Thomas. Thomas explained that the workers were not eligible to be paid, because the screenings were not “integral” to their work. Of course, if an employee refuses to submit to the screening, he will be fired, and so he will not be able to work for the company any more. So, in that sense, the screening is integral to his work, and he should be paid for it. What’s more, it’s an imposition on his time, which is reason enough that he should be paid for it.
George Orwell once pointed out that coal miners don’t get paid for the time they spend walking to their work stations, even though they may walk as much as a mile underground to get to them. Years ago, I had a job working for a restaurant. I remember that the cooks were not paid for the time they spent getting into and out of their uniforms. The owner was always bitching and moaning that the cooks were clocking in before they put their uniforms on. He was always threatening to fire people for it.
Addicting Info has tried to put an optimistic spin on the ruling. The article cites one sentence in Thomas’s opinion: “These arguments are properly presented to the employer at the bargaining table … not to a court in an FLSA claim.” The author argues:
- Clarence Thomas just put into a court decision that workplace issues involving compensated time must be handled in negotiations, the cornerstone of collective bargaining and unions, and not the courts. By blocking the courts, but with FLSA itself upheld This also means that companies can no longer fail to engage in negotiations, relying upon the courts to handle such matters – the Supreme Court just ordered them to the bargaining table. Tactics to block unionizing now can, and will be considered unconstitutional per this decision.
I think that this is reading a lot more into the decision than is really there. I suspect that if pressed on the matter, Thomas will deny that this is what he intended. This, after all, is a man who supported the Hobby Lobby ruling.
The ruling class is determined to nickel and dime us to death.