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Strikers ruled not eligible for food stamps.

Employees' collective bargaining strength was diminished somewhat by a Supreme Court ruling that households are ineligible for food stamps when any member is on strike. In the ruling,, the Court upheld the constitutionality of a 1981 amendment to the Food Stamp Act that prohibits strikers from receiving the aid.

Writing for the majority, Justice Byron R. White said that the Congress had acted to avoid favoritism to one side or another in a labor dispute, and the Government's refusal to subsidize a strike is not an infringement of that right. Justice White acknowledged that denial of food stamps to strikers pressures them to "abandon their union" by returning to work "but the strikers' right of association does not require the Government to furnish funds to maximize the exercise of that right."

In the minority opinion, Justice Thurgood Marshall, joined by Justices William J. Brennan, Jr., and Harry A. Blackmun, argued that the amendment improperly discriminates against strikers by permitting workers idled by a strike to receive food stamps, as long as they themselves are not on strike. "Only strikers, though they may be as 'willing to work' in every salient respect, must give up their eligibility for food stamps if they refuse to cross a picket line."

The majority finding reversed a lower court ruling in the case, which was initiated by the Auto Workers and the United Mine Workers unions.
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Author:Ruben, George
Publication:Monthly Labor Review
Date:Sep 1, 1988
Previous Article:West Coast lumber workers strike.
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