The Right to Strike and the Perils of Exclusive Representation
Boston Review, Forum 2, 2017, at 107
18 Pages Posted: 22 Nov 2017 Last revised: 2 Oct 2019
Date Written: 2017
This essay commenced 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 title, which originally appeared as "The Right to Strike," has been modified to reflect the fact that the essay and many of the responses are as much concerned with the issue of exclusive representation as the right to strike.
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: Suggested Citation