Law and the Future of Organized Labor in America

18 Pages Posted: 5 Aug 2003

See all articles by Keith N. Hylton

Keith N. Hylton

Boston University - School of Law

Date Written: July 30, 2003


This paper, prepared for "The Future of Organized Labor" conference at Wayne State University, examines two questions: what are the implications of the decline of unions for the future of labor law, and what are the implications of labor law for the decline of unions? After documenting the recent trends (decline in the private sector coupled with slight growth in the public sector), I argue that the change in the public-versus-private composition will lead unions to pursue legislative strategies that will further reduce the share of the private sector workforce in unions. A law reform program that has any chance of success in reversing the decline of private sector unions will have to aim to reduce the competitive disadvantage to firms from unionization. I offer two general proposals in this vein: making labor law more predictable and removing the NLRB from regulating the substantive terms of labor contracts.

Keywords: union density, labor law, certification elections, labor public policy

JEL Classification: K31, K000

Suggested Citation

Hylton, Keith N., Law and the Future of Organized Labor in America (July 30, 2003). Available at SSRN: or

Keith N. Hylton (Contact Author)

Boston University - School of Law ( email )

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