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The Employee Free Choice Act and a Strategy for Winning Workers' Rights

Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, pp. 125-144, March 2008

Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Papers No. 061

21 Pages Posted: 27 Mar 2008 Last revised: 7 Dec 2009

James Gray Pope

Rutgers Law School - Newark

Peter Kellman

Southern Maine Labor Council

Ed Bruno

National Nurses Organizing Committee

Abstract

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.

Keywords: labor, constitutional rights, social movements, legislation

JEL Classification: J58, K31

Suggested Citation

Pope, James Gray and Kellman, Peter and Bruno, Ed, The Employee Free Choice Act and a Strategy for Winning Workers' Rights. Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, pp. 125-144, March 2008; Rutgers School of Law-Newark Research Papers No. 061. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=1112503

James Gray Pope (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School - Newark ( email )

NJ
United States
973-744-3642 (Phone)
973-353-1445 (Fax)

Peter Kellman

Southern Maine Labor Council ( email )

31 Exchange Street
2nd Floor
Portland, ME 04101
United States

Ed Bruno

National Nurses Organizing Committee ( email )

2000 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

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