The Death of Labor Law?

NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-16

Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 2, December 2006

20 Pages Posted: 25 Jun 2006

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This review tells three interlocking tales of decline, each with its respective prognosis for recovery: the declines of labor law scholarship, labor law, and organized labor. The relationship between the latter two, and the role that a reformed labor law might play in reviving organized labor, are matters of continuing controversy. In the meantime, two developments on the ground suggest a way forward for organized labor, labor law, and labor law scholars. Activist unions have found success with a new organizing model: neutrality and card-check agreements. Elsewhere, anti-sweatshop activists are developing increasingly sophisticated supplier codes and monitoring schemes to improve labor standards in developing countries. Both strategies, with their basically contractual architecture, exemplify what regulatory scholars are calling "new governance." These strategies suggest a potential way around the roadblocks that meet labor law reform proposals, and toward more agile and responsive forms of workplace governance.

Keywords: labor law, collective bargaining, unions, employment

JEL Classification: K31

Suggested Citation

Estlund, Cynthia L., The Death of Labor Law?. NYU Law School, Public Law Research Paper No. 06-16, Annual Review of Law & Social Science, Vol. 2, December 2006, Available at SSRN:

Cynthia L. Estlund (Contact Author)

New York University School of Law ( email )

40 Washington Square South
New York, NY 10012-1099
United States
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