Mardi Gras Casino and Resort, a South Florida gambling, dog-racing and hotel complex, has been around in some form since the 1930s. What started as a pari-mutuel betting track is today a Las Vegas-style destination for beachgoers, part of Florida’s booming gaming economy responsible for 2,600 jobs and nearly $382 million in spending in 2012. But Mardi Gras has made national news for something else entirely: an explosive labor dispute now before the Supreme Court.
On Nov. 13, the court will hear oral argument in Unite Here Local 355 v. Martin Mulhall and Mardi Gras Gaming. It is the latest case testing the boundaries of workers’ right to organize and could be among the most significant labor-related decisions since John Roberts was appointed chief justice of the United States in 2005.
At issue in Mulhall is the neutrality agreement, a contract widely used by private employers and unions to govern conduct and set ground rules for workplace unionization campaigns. About a decade ago, Mardi Gras employees began talking with Local 355 of Unite Here, a union focused on organizing hotel, casino and airport workers. Like other casino employees, they hoped that the union could help them bargain for better wages, benefits and working conditions. Local 355’s website motto — “Lifting South Florida above the poverty line” — reflects the measured aspirations of this area’s low-wage service sector.
The trouble started in 2008, when Mardi Gras refused to comply with the neutrality agreement. Local 355 initiated legal proceedings, and the casino invoked an unorthodox defense: The contract it signed was unlawful under an anti-corruption statute.
Federal criminal law prohibits employers and unions from trading money or other “things of value.” According to Mulhall and Mardi Gras, neutrality agreements flout this interdiction and improperly circumvent employees’ right to secret-ballot elections, set out in the National Labor Relations Act. According to Local 355, the law forbids bribery and corruption, not mutually beneficial agreements between cooperating employers and unions.
A powerful conservative nonprofit group opposed to organized labor helped shape Mardi Gras’ strategy. The National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation (NRTW) — whose stated mission is to “eliminate coercive union power and compulsory unionism” — came to represent Martin Mulhall, a Mardi Gras employee opposed to the union.
Mulhall sued Local 355 and Mardi Gras, but the case was thrown out by a Florida district court. On appeal by Mulhall, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit sent the case back down. In the appellate court’s view, the kinds of promises and information exchanged in neutrality agreements are things of value and therefore foster corruption as much as cash bribes do. Unite Here then appealed to the Supreme Court.
I posted this last night but I feel it ought to be Paged as well:
Florida House panel shoots down bill to repeal ‘Stand Your Ground’ law (VIDEO)
A bill to repeal Florida’s controversial ‘Stand Your Ground’ law was shot down on Thursday by a panel of state lawmakers.
Before a packed house and after hours of impassioned testimony, the House Criminal Justice Subcommittee rejected the proposal to repeal the state’s self-defense law, which removes ones duty to retreat and allows one to use force, including deadly force, if he/she reasonably believes his/her life is in danger, by a vote of 11-2.
I need to cut ahead a bit here because another bill did pass:
While the panel voted decisively against repealing SYG, it approved another measure that would not subject individuals who fire warning shots to a mandatory-minimum sentencing law known as 10-20-Life (10 for pulling a gun, 20 for shooting it, and life for shooting someone).
The impetus for the measure was a case involving a 31-year-old Jacksonville woman, Marissa Alexander, who was sentenced to 20 years in prison for allegedly firing a warning shot at her husband.
Attorneys for Alexander invoked SYG during the preliminary proceedings but failed to convince a judge that it applied in her case. After refusing a plea deal by prosecutors, Alexander opted to go to trial. A jury took 12 minutes to render a guilty verdict. She was given 20 years.
The panel passed the measure by a vote of 12-1. It will now head to the Florida Legislature to be reviewed by both chambers in March during the 2014 legislative session.
I tend to think this was the right call by the legislature, although I’d like to have seen SYG amended to to make clear that getting out of your vehicle and confronting someone whom you think might be up to know good voids the self-defense provision.
As always, comments welcome.
This story has been discussed on LGF several times, so i felt it prudent to update the story for the group:
A Florida woman who claimed to be a victim of abuse yet was sentenced to 20 years behind bars for allegedly firing a warning shot during a dispute with her husband was granted a new trial Thursday.
The appellate court ruling erased a decision by a jury that took just 12 minutes to convict Marissa Alexander, a mother of three, of aggravated assault.
The conviction of Alexander, who is black, sparked outrage and cries of a racial double standard in light of the exoneration of George Zimmerman, a white Hispanic, for the death of Trayvon Martin, who was black. In particular, outrage aired on social media and among some lawmakers on Capitol Hill.
Alexander unsuccessfully tried to invoke Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law as the same prosecutors who unsuccessfully worked to put Zimmerman behind bars told the court that she did not act in self-defense.
In granting the new trial, Judge James H. Daniel also seemed unmoved by the Stand Your Ground defense.
“We reject her contention that the trial court erred in declining to grant her immunity from prosecution under Florida’s Stand Your Ground law, but we remand for a new trial because the jury instructions on self-defense were erroneous,” wrote Daniel.
As always, comments are welcome.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi (R) said on Monday that she “should not have requested” that the date of an inmate’s execution be moved to a later date in order to accommodate her “hometown campaign kickoff,” a political fundraiser. Bondi was a major supporter of a bill signed by Gov. Rick Scott (R-FL) that sped up the execution process in Florida. Yet she effectively delayed the execution of a Florida man named Marshall Lee Gore for a month in order to accommodate her fundraiser.
Bondi was a leading figure in the failed effort by several Republican attorneys general to convince the Supreme Court to repeal the Affordable Care Act. Prior to her election as Florida’s attorney general, Bondi worked as a legal analyst for Fox News.
AP via Talking Points Memo
A federal court is dismissing a lawsuit that a Hispanic civic group and two naturalized citizens filed last year to block a voter purge in Florida.
The lawsuit became moot after a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in June. That decision halted enforcement of a federal law that required all or parts of 15 states with a history of discrimination in voting to get federal approval before changing the way they hold elections.
The groups fighting the state had argued that Florida’s efforts to remove suspected non-U.S. citizens needed to be cleared by federal authorities first because five counties in the state had been subject to the federal law.
The current gun culture mentality in a nutcase, er, shell.
With the Department of Justice placing a hold on all evidence in the George Zimmerman trial, the neighborhood watch volunteer won’t be getting his gun back yet. But he could be getting a new one instead.
A Volusia County gun shop has offered Zimmerman a free gun following his acquittal in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin, according to TV station WKMG Local 6.
Pompano Pats in DeLand sent a letter to Zimmerman’s attorney, Mark O’Mara, offering a free firearm to Zimmerman after hearing media reports that authorities were holding his Kel-Tec PF-9 pending further investigation.
“Upon receiving your confirmation that he is well within his legal rights to concealed carry, our company would like to offer Mr. Zimmerman a free firearm,” the letter stated according to WKMG. “We currently have the same model in stock, or he could [choose] another weapon suitable for concealed carry.”
So, as far as I can understand, had the boy begun hitting his assailant - and then started to win the fight - the piss balloon assailant would have been justified under Florida law to “stand his ground” and shoot the boy dead.
Piss-balloon man would be the only one up on the stand, and he can just testify that he was all done with his assault and had retreated, so it was the boy’s own fault he got shot, and he never uttered a racial remark, and the kid may have had detention once and his sibling is fat and rolls his eyes on the stand.
Let that sink in.
Hall tells me that the tea-party voters who put Rubio in office are frustrated with his career thus far, especially his support for the Gang of Eight’s immigration legislation.
“They’re done with him,” she says of Florida’s tea-party activists. “They’re not voting for him and they’re angry. They’re angry because they feel they’ve been deceived.”
TALLAHASSEE (The Borowitz Report)—Arguing that its current system of laws is out of step with life in today’s Florida, a growing chorus of lawmakers in the state are arguing for a measure that would eliminate laws altogether.
“Florida is rife with laws that say ‘Do this, don’t do that,’ ” said Gov. Rick Scott, a supporter of the measure. “Speaking as a Floridian, I have found it exhausting pretending to obey them.”
There is broad support in the state for abolishing laws, according to a poll commissioned by the political action committee Citizens For a Lawless Florida.
According to that poll, a majority of Floridians favor ridding the state of laws, while a sizable number did not know that the state had any.
“We’ve been trying to remove laws piecemeal for the past few decades, but this measure seems like the most efficient way to take care of the whole problem,” Gov. Scott said.
For those who fear that eradicating Florida’s laws would wreak havoc on life in the state, Gov. Scott offered this reassurance: “Honestly, I don’t think you’ll notice a difference.”