Our nation's private sector labor law is a product of the New Deal and the industrial age. In its first edition, the 1935 Wagner Act, employee rights to organize were recognized and employer unfair labor practices were defined. Twelve years later, the pendulum swung and union unfair labor practices were added to the Act. To address corruption, the 1959 Landrum-Griffin Act was enacted to require labor organizations, employers, and labor relations consultants to file annual reports, and union members were granted a Bill of Rights. The NLRA was last amended in 1974, addressing the health care industry.
Over the past 80 years, our nation's economy, indeed, the global economy, has changed significantly. While some efforts have been made over the last four decades to amend federal labor law, none have succeeded. To fill the vacuum, the National Labor Relations Board has stepped in as what some would describe as a quasi-legislature, issuing decisions and rules reflecting the Board's political majority's bias to circumvent Congressional deadlock.
Should labor law be viewed as a vehicle to restore organized labor's density of 60+ years ago or to ensure employee rights to join or not join a labor union? Or, should labor law be overhauled to ensure labor unions' presence globally and to empower organized labor to affect or determine global work standards and business models generally? And, should labor law be politically aligned with one party? Is labor law about the American citizen/worker or about organized labor's institutional survival?
This panel was presented at the 2015 National Lawyers Convention on Thursday, November 12, 2015, at the Mayflower Hotel in Washington, DC.
Labor & Employment: 80th Anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act & Congressional Action
2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
- Prof. Richard Epstein, Laurence A. Tisch Professor of Law. Director, Classical Liberal Institute, New York University School of Law
- Hon. John N. Raudabaugh, Reed Larson Professor of Labor Law, Ave Maria School of Law
- Mr. Bill Samuel, Director of Government Affairs, AFL-CIO
- Mr. Mark Schneider, General Counsel, Int'l Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers
- Moderator: Hon. Joan L. Larsen, Associate Justice, Supreme Court of Michigan
The Mayflower Hotel