Revolution in Pragmatist Clothing: Nationalizing Workplace Law

53 Pages Posted: 19 Jan 2009 Last revised: 18 Nov 2011

See all articles by Jeffrey M. Hirsch

Jeffrey M. Hirsch

University of North Carolina School of Law

Date Written: March 1, 2009


Workplace governance in the United States consists of a fragmented system of rules emanating from federal, state, and local governments. This fragmentation creates an unnecessarily inefficient and suboptimal system of regulation that often makes workplace protection little more than a false promise for workers. Ironically, these problems are at least partially the result of too many disparate rules. Thus, a reduction in the number of workplace protections could improve the effectiveness of the system as a whole. Achieving that goal requires a solution that reflects the magnitude of the problem; tinkering at the margins will accomplish little. Accordingly, this Article proposes a revolutionary reform: the nationalization of workplace law. The modern, global economy no longer justifies local control over the workplace, especially given the problems with our current federalist model of regulation. Moreover, the federal government’s structural advantages give it the best opportunity to push workplace law towards a more optimal level. Exclusive federal regulation will also allow for significant streamlining and simplification. These changes will increase the effectiveness of workplace laws and allow more workers to enjoy the protections that these laws promise.

Keywords: employment, labor, union, federalism

JEL Classification: K31, J58, J71, J78, J70, K19, K23, K32, K42, H73, J7, J38

Suggested Citation

Hirsch, Jeffrey M., Revolution in Pragmatist Clothing: Nationalizing Workplace Law (March 1, 2009). Alabama Law Review, Vol. 61, p. 1025, 2010, University of Tennessee Legal Studies Research Paper No. 51 , Available at SSRN:

Jeffrey M. Hirsch (Contact Author)

University of North Carolina School of Law ( email )

Van Hecke-Wettach Hall, 160 Ridge Road
CB #3380
Chapel Hill, NC 27599-3380
United States
919-962-7675 (Phone)

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