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In the Cause of Union Democracy

14 Pages Posted: 19 Jul 2008  

Michael J. Goldberg

Widener University Delaware Law School

Date Written: July 18, 2008


This article is part of a symposium entitled "The Employment and Labor Law Professor as Public Intellectual: Sharing our Work with the World," based on presentations at the 2008 meeting of the Association of American Law Schools. The article describes the cause to which I have devoted a good part of my career, both inside and outside the halls of academia: the struggle to make the labor movement more democratic and more responsive to its members. While this piece briefly describes how I became involved in this cause, and how my work on its behalf has contributed to both my teaching and scholarship, the heart of the article makes two broader points. First, it argues that the cause of union democracy is of critical importance both for the sake of a stronger labor movement and, perhaps more significantly, as a key ingredient in a revitalized movement for progressive change and social justice. Second, it makes the case for greater involvement on the part of public intellectuals in support of union democracy, highlighting the vulnerable and isolated positions many union reformers all too often find themselves in, at the mercy of not just entrenched incumbents within their unions but also hostile employers, an indifferent Department of Labor (under both political parties), and in some industries, ruthless racketeers and mobsters.

Keywords: labor law, union democracy, labor movement

JEL Classification: K31, J51

Suggested Citation

Goldberg, Michael J., In the Cause of Union Democracy (July 18, 2008). Suffolk University Law Review, Vol. 41, 2008; Widener Law School Legal Studies Research Paper No. 08-69. Available at SSRN:

Michael J. Goldberg (Contact Author)

Widener University Delaware Law School ( email )

4601 Concord Pike
Wilmington, DE 19803-0406
United States
302-477-2712 (Phone)

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