Tuesday, April 23, 2013
A rare cultural phenomena – labor issues driving the plot of a prime-time TV show. This week’s episode of The Good Wife (#21), a legal drama on CBS starring Julianna Marguiles, featured a plot devoted to labor law: Attorney Alicia Florick (Marguiles) was ‘tricked/coaxed’ into representing a group of computer coders at a software company who sought to form a union.
Much to my surprise, a series of hearings before an administrative law judge at the NLRB provided the adjudicatory framework. Legal issues included whether: workers were employees; engaged in concerted activity; suffered from discrimination because they chose to form a union, and; whether employer electronic surveillance was lawful. What’s more, the firm’s representation of these employees proved a catalyst for the law firm’s administrative staff to complain about their own workplace conditions and a justifiably cynical take on how employers “lawfully” handle employee dissatisfaction.
If you can get a hold of the episode, excerpts would make for some effective use of popular TV culture for classroom teaching and conversation. A summary of the episode is available at Entertainment Weekly here.
Does all this also mean that labor law is again bubbling up in Americans' consciousness? Have the events of Wisconsin, Michigan, and the NLRB finally got some in Hollywood to take notice of the importance of these issues to the future of our country?
OK, probably not. But one can dream.