Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Labor's Litigation

Impact Jaime Eagan (JD Harvard 2011) has just posted on SSRN Making an Impact: The Labor Movement's Use of Litigation to Achieve Social and Economic Justice.  It's worth reading.  Here's an excerpt from the abstract:

The image that naturally comes to mind when one thinks of a labor union is that of a bargaining representative and an advocate for wronged union employees – an organization that fights to obtain better wages and working conditions for employees than they could negotiate on their own, and that represents employees in any grievances with their employer....  However, unions have increasingly embraced the role of an advocate for workers generally, often partnering with other organizations and social movements, and have engaged in political activity to address social and economic concerns of broad constituencies – union members and non-members alike.... From mass tort litigation, to election and voter registration challenges, to education financing scheme cases, unions have demonstrated their commitment to the American working class as a whole. Although some examples of such impact litigation arise out of workplace conditions – such as union involvement in asbestos litigation and repetitive stress injury product liability lawsuits – other examples of union impact litigation are seemingly unconnected to the workplace – such as challenges to immigration laws that seem to promote racial profiling and challenges to voter registration restrictions that disenfranchise working-class voters....  This paper will examine the various conceptions of labor unions and discuss union involvement in impact litigation demonstrate yet another way that unions behave as social actors invested in the betterment of the working class as a whole.

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