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Public Sector Labor Law and History: The Politics of Ancient History?


William A. Herbert


Hunter College, City University of New York

June 11, 2011

Hofstra Labor and Emploment Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 339, pp. 339-365, 2011

Abstract:     
This article discuss three books that address various aspects of public sector labor history. It seeks to contextualize the current debate over public sector labor law and relations through the lessons of relevant history. The first book discussed is entitled The Man Who Saved New York: Hugh Carey and the Great Fiscal Crisis of 1975, by Seymour P. Lachman and Robert Polner. It recounts the leadership of Governor Carey and public sector labor leaders in reaching negotiated solutions through collective bargaining that helped solve New York City's fiscal crisis in 1975. The second book is a long-forgotten 1948 treatise Government as Employer by Sterling D. Spero, published at the dawn of public sector collective bargaining in the United States. Unlike most histories of American labor, Spero's book focuses on the public sector, providing an important antidote to the dominance of the private sector narrative in United States labor historiography. The final book examined is a labor history published last year: There is Power in a Union: The Epic Story of Labor in America by Philip Dray. Dray's book presents an episodic labor history of America's private sector from the rise of industrialization to today, which touches upon certain events in public sector labor history.

Number of Pages in PDF File: 27

Keywords: union, labor, public sector, history, collective bargaining

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Date posted: June 13, 2011 ; Last revised: October 14, 2011

Suggested Citation

Herbert, William A., Public Sector Labor Law and History: The Politics of Ancient History? (June 11, 2011). Hofstra Labor and Emploment Law Journal, Vol. 28, No. 339, pp. 339-365, 2011. Available at SSRN: http://ssrn.com/abstract=1863482

Contact Information

William A. Herbert (Contact Author)
Hunter College, City University of New York ( email )
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10021
United States
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