The Employee Free Choice Act and a Strategy for Winning Workers' Rights
James Gray Pope
Rutgers Law School - Newark
Southern Maine Labor Council
National Nurses Organizing Committee
Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, pp. 125-144, March 2008
Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Papers No. 061
Despite its positive features, the Employee Free Choice Act has no place in a long-term strategy for workers' rights. If enacted, it will dissipate the energy for labor law reform without producing any results other than a marginal improvement in the prospects for staff-driven organizing campaigns. More likely, however, it will fail of passage. History teaches that the enormous advantages enjoyed by employers in ordinary politics (for example, the grossly disproportionate influence exerted by wealthy interests and rural states in our political system) can be offset only by a long-term and uncompromising movement for workers' rights. In the first half of the twentieth century - the period when all of our major workers' rights statutes were won - the movement approached the issue as one of long-term struggle over fundamental principles, and not as a matter of wheeling and dealing for whatever gain could be obtained at the moment. For half a century, workers and unions insisted that without the full freedom to associate in unions and engage in concerted activities like strikes, workers would be reduced to an unconstitutional condition of involuntary servitude. By adopting a similarly principled approach, adapted to fit the emerging industrial regime of flexible production, we can reclaim the rights to organize and strike.
Number of Pages in PDF File: 21
Keywords: labor, constitutional rights, social movements, legislation
JEL Classification: J58, K31Accepted Paper Series
Date posted: March 27, 2008 ; Last revised: December 7, 2009
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