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Labor Law Inside Out

Working USA: The Journal of Labor and Society, Vol. 11, No. 1, March 2008

14 Pages Posted: 20 May 2008  

Wilma Beth Liebman

affiliation not provided to SSRN


Today, some sixty years after passage of the Taft-Hartley amendments to the National Labor Relations Act, it seems that the centerpiece of the Act has become the right to refrain from protected, concerted or union activity. The original 1935 legislation was enacted, of course, to protect the right to engage in that activity, and to encourage the practice of collective bargaining. For nearly sixty years after Taft-Hartley added the right to refrain to Section 7's employee protections, the Board has struggled to reconcile the sometimes competing statutory goals of promoting the stability of collective bargaining relationships and the individual freedom of choice, preserved by Section 7. That has changed, however, as the National Labor Relations Board, in several recent decisions, has said for the first time, that freedom of choice┬┐which is to say, the freedom to reject union representation┬┐prevails in the statutory scheme. It is as if the law, in abandoning the primacy of achieving economic justice through collective action, has been turned inside out. The stakes for this shift in policy are great.

JEL Classification: K31, J50, J51, J53, J58

Suggested Citation

Liebman, Wilma Beth, Labor Law Inside Out. Available at SSRN:

Wilma Beth Liebman (Contact Author)

affiliation not provided to SSRN

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