Republicans Ally with Harmful Corporations

The Texas Supreme Court, where all nine black robes wrap Republican souls, handed the business community another ruling last August, not a surprise from a corporate-friendly bench that a University of Texas professor’s study showed gave 87 percent of its 2004-05 rulings to defendants – usually big corporations.

In the August case, the court awarded corporations immunity from lawsuits filed by workers who are hired by subcontractors and then injured because of negligence by corporations. If this decision had been in effect when a March, 2005 explosion–fire at the BP oil refinery in Texas City killed 15 subcontract workers and maimed 180, then the all-Republican Supreme Court would have spared BP the lawsuit that cost the oil company $1.5 billion in liability payments.

The court told workers they have no redress when corporations do them wrong. Corporations can expose them to toxic chemicals, dangerous working environments, unsafe equipment, and workers can be horribly injured as a result. But, the Texas court said, workers must go home, collect a paltry sum in worker’s compensation until it runs out, then return to work, where they would work undoubtedly scared, anguished, if not crippled.

That is what the Republican Texas Supreme Court has ruled is workers’ lot. That is what the Republican Bush Administration, which hails from Texas, believes. And that is why the ability of workers across America to enforce their rights has steadily eroded during the seven years of the Bush Administration. Funding for the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health enforcement has fallen by eight percent; spending to ensure employers observe federal child labor and minimum wage laws has fallen 13 percent. Federal spending for mine safety is now nine percent below what is was in 2001. Bush slashed spending for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Decisions from the Bush-stacked National Labor Relations Board and the U.S. Supreme Court have fallen steadily against labor, including one recently that reversed 40 years of precedent for voluntary recognition of a union by a company when a majority of workers have signed cards petitioning for representation.

This is the disparity between Republican and Democratic candidates. This is why it is ridiculous when people say there’s no difference between the parties, that they can’t tell the difference between candidates. The distinction is clear: Republicans ally first with corporations – like those on the Texas Supreme Court did. They empower corporations.

The late labor leader Tony Mazzocchi, once secretary-treasurer of the former Oil Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union (OCAW), realized the ultimate problem with this early in his career as he began working for federal health and safety standards for workers, an effort that ultimately would become the OSHA regulations passed during the Richard Nixon Administration.

In a recently released biography entitled, “The Man Who Hated Work and Loved Labor,

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