On December 7, the Center for Labor and Employment Law hosted a discussion between labor and employment law experts Cynthia Estlund, Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law, and New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse '82. The two structured their conversation around the topics covered in Estlund’s 2010 book Regoverning the Workplace: From Self-Regulation to Co-Regulation.

In Regoverning the Workplace, Estlund examines the decline of collective bargaining and rise of employment law, and advocates a shift from employer self-regulation toward a workplace governance that includes workers themselves. Estlund and Greenhouse addressed the developments that have led to only eight percent of United States workers being represented by unions and collective bargaining—down from 35 percent in the 1950s. The U.S. has generally shifted towards deregulation and self-regulation in the private sector, which has encouraged employers to develop self-governing policies and procedures. The 1935 National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act, was the last significant pro-union change in labor law in the private sector, according to Estlund. “The politics of it, is that each side has enough to stop the other side from getting anything done,” Estlund said. “In particular, in labor law reform, anything that makes it easier for workers to unionize is unanimously opposed by the entire business community.”

Watch the full conversation (52 min):

Posted December 14, 2010