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In a surprise ruling, a three judge panel of the Ninth Circus Court of Appeals issued a unanimous opinion supporting the right of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) recipients to unionize in order to assure equitable access to benefits, along with an uninterrupted flow of payments should the federal government be forced to temporarily shut down due to congressional budget stalemates.
"For too long so-called Food Stamp beneficiaries have been denied access to union representation seeking to protect their rights," said Justice Gavin Moore Freestuff. In a sharply worded rebuke to attorneys representing the National Taxpayers Union, which sought to block a ruling by the newly reconstituted National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Justice Freestuff cited recent court precedents establishing the right of home health care workers, nannies, babysitters, and dog walkers to pay compulsory dues which unions could then use to influence elections.
Under the new rules, if a majority of SNAP recipients in any congressional district signs ballot cards accepting the representation of a federally recognized labor union, all SNAP beneficiaries in that district would have 30 days to voluntarily enroll or lose benefits. Monthly union dues would then be automatically deducted from recipients' Electronic Benefits Transfer (EBT) cards, minus a small fee for the card processor.
Eyeing 47 million potential new members, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) immediately launched an organizing drive, claiming that since Food Stamp recipients were on the government payroll and contributed just as much to the economy as other government employees, their organization would offer the most appropriate representation.
AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka begged to differ. "Were it not for decades of untiring efforts by our brothers and sisters to drive domestic manufacturers out of the country-or if necessary out of business-there is no way we would have so many Food Stamp recipients today. It is only right that we be allowed to recruit these critical providers of aggregate demand to replenish our dwindling membership."
EBT card processor JPMorgan Chase said it could begin deducting union dues as early as October 1, provided unions selected by cardholders cover a modest fee for software to enable funds to be deposited directly into designated politicians' campaign accounts. JPMorgan Chase stock rose four dollars on the news.
If even half of the nation's SNAP recipients elect to join a union, the $100 per month dues would total approximately half a billion dollars a year. Thanks to the Supreme Court's Citizens United ruling, that money will mostly likely be spent assuring fair and balanced elections, thereby ending gridlock in Washington. The subsequent increase in SNAP benefits that would occur once those goals are achieved would easily cover the monthly deductions.
"What's not to like?" said Detroit resident and long time Food Stamp recipient Maureen Maya Pockets, who lost her job when the tool and die company she worked for moved to South Carolina after suffering a protracted strike. "I only make $4 an hour now, under the table with no benefits, working as a hired construction site picketer for the United Brotherhood of Carpenters. Without those EBT payments I couldn't do my part."
The Reverend Al Sharpton declared a national day of thanksgiving, organizing candlelight vigils to thank the Court, as well as newly appointed member of the NLRB who made this historic civil rights achievement possible. In related news, Grover Norquist's doctors at the Bethesda Naval Hospital report he is out of danger and recovering nicely after the heart attack he suffered upon learning of the ruling.
President Obama, stopping to speak to his media entourage from the 16th hole at the exclusive Farm Neck Golf Club on Martha's Vineyard, chose to reflect on the long march toward income equality that this ruling represents. "I promised to spread the wealth around when I ran for president in 2008, and again in 2012 when you reelected me to stay the course. I intend to keep that promise despite the protracted economic turmoil caused by fringe elements of the Republican Party who refuse to take a balanced approach to fiscal policy, not to mention those millionaires and billionaires who will not pay their fair share."
The president then called for a nine-iron, "to finish the job I started."