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The Mechanics
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Labor & Worker Rights Wed Jan 27 2010

Calling all You Newly Deputized Free Speech Sheriffs

Nowhere is the freedom of speech more curtailed than in the workplace. Americans are expected to check their Constitutional rights at the door, all for the privilege of generating profit for their bosses. Not only this, but the (uniquely American) doctrine of at-will employment gives employers even greater flexibility to retaliate against employees for their speech. There's even the appalling "duty of loyalty" employees owe to their bosses that restricts not only their business activities but what they may say about their employer publicly.

Target stores as a precondition to employment at their stores subject their new hires to indoctrination (it certainly isn't a two-way conversation) about labor unions and even pending legislation. Nobody is allowed to offer a counter-point or discuss with their fellow employees the potential benefits of unionizing. Why? Because it's "private property".

With the Citizens United decision, the Court greatly expanded the definition of free speech by directing legislators to err on the side of no regulation of action that could be considered speech. So why should "employees"--the vast majority of the population--be kept from exercising that right?

The Working blog from In These Times has a run-down of corporate union busting and the corporate assault on free speech.

 
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BG / January 28, 2010 2:03 PM

Ramsin,
For a similar free speech issue at the workplace see a recent blog and the Marquette law school blog (http://law.marquette.edu/facultyblog/). It summarizes how a recent 2nd Circuit decision has limited speech rights of public school teachers.

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