The Right to Strike

Boston Review, Forum 2, 2017, at 107

18 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2017

See all articles by James Gray Pope

James Gray Pope

Rutgers Law School

Ed Bruno

National Nurses Organizing Committee

Peter Kellman

Southern Maine Labor Council

Date Written: 2017


This essay led off a Boston Review Forum featuring responses from Cynthia Estlund, Isabelle Ferreras, Janice Fine, Bill Fletcher Jr., Alicia Garza, Alex Gourevitch, Thomas A. Kochan, Sophia Z. Lee, Stephen Lerner, Staughton Lynd, Bob Master, and Andrea Dehlendorf with Dan Schlademan. Posted here is the original essay, with footnotes added, followed by the authors’ reply to the responses.

The essay submits that (1) American labor law blocks workers from exercising the rights to strike, to organize, and to act in solidarity; (2) largely as a result, Taft-Hartley “labor organizations” have declined steadily for more than half a century, through Republican and Democratic administrations alike; (3) before it is too late, unions and other workers’ organizations should prioritize the fundamental rights to strike, organize, and act in solidarity in all phases of movement activity; (4) instead of attempting to tweak the Taft-Hartley model, proponents of workers’ rights should seek long-term, fundamental change including the replacement of exclusive representation with a system that fosters worker freedom and permits broad solidarity. The reply discusses a number of important points raised by the respondents.

Keywords: Labor, Constitutional Rights, Legislation, Trade Unions, Social Movements

JEL Classification: J58, K31

Suggested Citation

Pope, James Gray and Bruno, Ed and Kellman, Peter, The Right to Strike (2017). Boston Review, Forum 2, 2017, at 107. Available at SSRN:

James Gray Pope (Contact Author)

Rutgers Law School ( email )

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

Ed Bruno

National Nurses Organizing Committee ( email )

2000 Franklin Street
Oakland, CA 94612
United States

Peter Kellman

Southern Maine Labor Council ( email )

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

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