NLRA Values, Labor Values, American Values

Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 223, 2005

Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 03-2009

52 Pages Posted: 13 Nov 2008 Last revised: 27 Jun 2011

Date Written: November 11, 2008


The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was drafted to be far more than a technocratic exercise. The NLRA's policies do play the role - or should play the role - of any legislative policy: providing guidance in interpreting and applying the law. However, the important social, justice, and economic values expressed in - and underpinning - the NLRA's policies found in sections 1, 2(3), 7, and 13 means the policies also provide a means for transforming the fundamental values of this country.

My book, Taking Back the Workers' Law, presents a comprehensive program for using the NLRA's policies - and its values - as part of a litigation strategy to restore its power to promote worker collective action. But, more important, it emphasizes that enforcing the law is but one part of a broader educational and litigation strategy to create a more just and democratic society.

In other words, Taking Back the Workers' Law is more than a manual for smart litigation. Its basic premise is that unions cannot survive - and certainly cannot thrive - in a country whose core values are inhospitable to the essence of what unions as worker representatives are and do. Taking Back the Workers' Law urges taking a fresh look at the NLRA, seeing it as the Workers' Law with a potential for reinvigorating the labor movement and saving the soul of this country. That potential springs from the NLRA's policies - not as a list of simple statements of purpose, but, rather, as mapping to values of industrial and social democracy, solidarity, social and economic justice, fair wages and working conditions, equality, and industrial and social peace. The NLRA itself and its policies embody values that were intended to, and still can, transform our workplaces and our society.

Keywords: work, litigation, NLRA, employment, unions, National Labor Relations Act, labor, law, work, collective action

JEL Classification: J3, J4, J5, J53, K31

Suggested Citation

Dannin, Ellen, NLRA Values, Labor Values, American Values (November 11, 2008). Berkeley Journal of Employment & Labor Law, Vol. 26, No. 2, p. 223, 2005, Penn State Legal Studies Research Paper No. 03-2009, Available at SSRN:

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