Freedom and Solidarity in American Labor Law

By David Brody

The article revisits the Wagner Act of 1935, which recognized the right of workers to organize autonomously and protected it with federal rules and procedures. It makes clear what it calls the « vulnerability » of the Act, criticized today as inefficient if not obnoxious by a number of trade unionists. Not only was the Act burdened by the weight of the past, the traditional hostility of the judiciary to unions, but it was subsequently undermined by political changes such as the Congressional victory of Republicans in 1947 (when the Taft-Hartley law was adopted) and the triumph of conservatism in the 1980s. The author emphasizes the idea that « workers’rights » are in fact « inferior » rights, when they are based on public policy, which can be reversed, and are not defined as fundamental, inalienable rights.


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