The Future of American Labor and Employment Law: Hopes, Dreams, and Realities

Source: Theodore J. St. Antoine, Employee Responsibilities and Rights Journal, Published online: 27 March 2009
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In many respects the US is a deeply conservative country. Unique among the major industrial democracies of the world, it imposes the death penalty, provides no national health insurance, fixes a high legal drinking age, and subscribes to the doctrine of employment at will. Perhaps not surprisingly, its labor movement is also one if the most conservative on earth, eschewing class warfare and aiming largely at the bread-and-butter goal of improved wages, benefits, and working conditions. Yet American employers have generally never been as accepting of unionization as their counterparts in other countries. Over the last half-century the density of unions in the private sector has fallen from about 35% to 7.5%. Employee apathy, vigorous employer opposition, and changing patterns of work have all played a part in that decline but his paper will focus on the role of law.

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