The Road to Abood: Part II
My first post delved briefly into the history and significance of the concept of “exclusive representation” in labor law. This post will explore the even more dubious application of the NLRA (private sector) model of collective bargaining (including exclusive representation) to the public sector.
In the interest of disclosure, I was drawn to this topic long ago. My primary practice area for 30 years as a lawyer was labor and employment law, representing management. In 1984, I wrote an article for the Journal of Labor Research entitled “Legal Aspects of Exclusive Representation: Ruminations on the Private-Public Sector Analogy.” In that article (written, sadly, before the digital era), I pointed out—as have many others—that collective bargaining has no place in the public sector. Indeed, in the United States, state and local governments did not grant public employees the right to join unions and/or bargain collectively until long after the New Deal—the 1960s and 1970s—and some still don’t. (Ironically, as government payrolls have expanded dramatically in recent decades, and unionized industries in the private sector have contracted, the membership of public sector unions now exceeds that of private sector unions.)
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