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Integral and Indispensable to the regular duties, Your govenment says this defines if you get paid

Update below.

From a Salon interview with  Catherine Ruckelshaus, general counsel and program director for the National Employment Law Project comes this case being argued today in the Supreme’s Court: Integrity Staffing Solutions, Inc. v. Busk

We tend not to hear much about Supreme Court cases until there’s an imminent ruling, much less before oral arguments have begun. So could you give me a quick overview of the case?

Sure. This is a case that’s been brought by Amazon warehouse workers who were working in a warehouse in Nevada and who at the end of their shift every day were required to go through an anti-theft screening in the warehouse that took workers as much as 25 or more minutes to get through.

So the workers brought a lawsuit against the staffing company that Amazon has [contracted] to recruit and hire the workers, it’s called Integrity Staffing [Solutions], and sued to try to get paid for the time they stood in line at the end of their shifts The [United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit] said the workers should get paid for that time, and the employer appealed and the Supreme Court has now taken the case.

The argument for the workers seems pretty intuitive to me; if you’re doing something because of your employer’s demand, you should, within reason, be compensated for your time. What’s Integrity’s argument in response?

The employer and, surprisingly, the government are saying that because the duties are not “integral and indispensable” to the regular duties that the workers are performing, the work isn’t compensable. So they’re trying to carve out of any duties that workers would perform whether or not it’s at the direction of the employer — or for the benefit of the employer — if they’re not “integral and indispensable” then you don’t have to get paid for it.

Are you getting this?  Do you get this line of argument?  This is a perfect, dictionary ready example of just what is wrong with our legal system.  That anyone can possibly look at the employer/employee relationship and consider a line of reasoning that parses out that relationship such that the legal concept of the “common man” understanding is no longer a valid legal principle just shows how little if there is any regard for the concept of the rule of law is present today.

But worse is that We the People, or at least those who are acting as stand ins for us have decided that the proper position, the one We the People would choose if voted on is the one that states an employer can pay you or not depending on just how close to the assembly line you are for the present activity you are doing.

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The Continued Necessity of Explaining to the Public What the Debt Ceiling IS

It’s already clear that Republican congressional leaders now recognize that the Republicans actually have no leverage at all on the debt ceiling matter; they’re not going to pull that trigger, and everyone knows it.  But Obama (or other prominent Dems) still really, really need to explain to the public that the debt ceiling concerns authorization for the Treasury Department to pay already-accrued bills, not an authorization to increase appropriations.  Otherwise, the Republicans will have most people believing that the Democrats forced an increase in future budget appropriations.  And that gives the Republicans a head start (if only an initial one, before the public learns what the Republicans consider “wasteful spending”) in the “sequester” negotiations, the crisis on which the Repubs now pin their leverage hopes.

My bet, and my hope, is that the sequester negotiations result in only a short-term resolution, expressly for the purpose of allowing the 2014 midterm elections determine the outcome of the revenues-vs.-dramatically-cutting-federal-spending war.  The Democrats have (in my opinion) a better-than-even chance of regaining control of the House in that election, despite the extreme gerrymandering since 2010.  

It’s been reported recently that to gain control of the House, the Dems would have to win the nationwide vote by somewhere between 7% and 8%.  But according to an article I read a few days ago (I can’t remember where), that’s what they did in 2006 and 2008.  And I think it’s likely that large numbers of seniors who voted in House elections in 2010 and 2012 for the Republican in their district will switch parties in 2014, now that the Repubs have made their safety-net position clear.  

At least as important, I also think that large numbers of so-called working class whites in various parts of the country who for decades now have automatically voted Republican, will no longer do so, automatically.  That began, in some rust belt states, in the last election.  And as I’ve watched footage of the devastation of Sandy in Staten Island and Queens–New York City’s two more-conservative boroughs–and on Long Island, I keep wondering how many of the storm’s victims supported Republican presidential and congressional candidates in recent elections before the post-Sandy one.  

Just as I wonder, as I read news accounts of the frantic efforts of the Army Corps of Engineers to keep Mississippi barge traffic flowing despite the record drought in the Midwest, how many Missourians and Iowans who vote Republican will rethink their views about the necessity of properly funding the federal government, and whether the problem, as Mitch McConnell recently diagnosed it, is really not inadequate revenue.

Add to that the obvious: that the public is, overwhelmingly, I’m pretty sure, just plain sick of these nihilistic pseudo-adults. (Although it’s still really important to ensure that the public actually knows just how nihilistic these people are.)

So, if the proverbial can is again kicked down the real road, and the inevitable screams of indignation from the punditry are heard, my rhetorical question to them will be: Why not try to actually analyze the situation rather than just use autopilot mode?

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