Social Philosophy and Policy

Research Article

ORGANIZED LABOR AND AMERICAN LAW: FROM FREEDOM OF ASSOCIATION TO COMPULSORY UNIONISM

Paul Morenoa1

a1 History, Hillsdale College

Abstract

Though most legal and labor historians have depicted an American labor movement that suffered from legal disabilities, American law has never denied organized labor's freedom of association. Quite the contrary, unions have always enjoyed at least some favoritism in the law, and this status provided the essential element to their success and power. But, even during the heyday of union power (1930–47), organized labor never succeeded in gaining all of the privileges that it sought, not enough to stem its current (private-sector) decline back to historically normal levels. This article provides a synoptic overview and reinterpretation of the development of American labor law.

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