The Blue Eagle at Work: Reclaiming Democratic Rights in the American Workplace

Overview

In The Blue Eagle at Work, Charles J. Morris, a renowned labor law scholar and preeminent authority on the National Labor Relations Act, uncovers a long-forgotten feature of that act that offers an exciting new approach to the revitalization of the American labor movement and the institution of collective bargaining. He convincingly demonstrates that in private-sector nonunion workplaces, the Act guarantees that employees have a viable right to engage in collective bargaining through a minority union on a ...
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Overview

In The Blue Eagle at Work, Charles J. Morris, a renowned labor law scholar and preeminent authority on the National Labor Relations Act, uncovers a long-forgotten feature of that act that offers an exciting new approach to the revitalization of the American labor movement and the institution of collective bargaining. He convincingly demonstrates that in private-sector nonunion workplaces, the Act guarantees that employees have a viable right to engage in collective bargaining through a minority union on a members-only basis. As a result of this startling breakthrough, American labor relations may never again be the same. Morris's underlying thesis is based on a meticulous analysis of statutory and decisional law and exhaustive historical research.Morris recounts the little-known history of union organizing and bargaining through members-only minority unions that prevailed widely both before and after passage of the 1935 Wagner Act. He explains how vintage language in the statute continues to protect minority-union bargaining today and how those rights are also guaranteed under the First Amendment and by international law to which the United States is a committed party. In addition, the book supplies detailed guidelines illustrating how this rediscovered workers' right could stimulate the development of new procedures for union organizing and bargaining and how management will likely respond to such efforts.The Blue Eagle at Work, which is clear and accessible to general readers as well as specialists, is an essential tool for labor-union officials and organizers, human-resource professionals in management, attorneys practicing in the field of labor and employment law, teachers and students of labor law and industrial relations, and concerned workers and managers who desire to understand the law that governs their relationship.
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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Morris concludes that employees in a workplace where there is no exclusive-majority representative never lost their right to minority-union representation; that a minority union is automatically 'entitled to recognition and bargaining on behalf of its employee members'; and—here is the kicker—that 'an employer who refuses such recognition and bargaining is committing an unfair labor practice.' Moreover, an employer who refuses a minority union's request for recognition and bargaining on behalf of its 'members only' could be legally picketed, provided such picketing disclaimed any organizational purpose. Best of all, by asserting minority union representative, employees can claim—in Morris' view—a level of legal protection not available to union activists in typical organizing campaigns."—Andy Zipser, The Guild Reporter, 11 February 2005

"This book contains nothing less then a blue print of how unions can be organized under current hostile legal conditions, using the original intentions of Section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act. . . . The current discussion on how to reverse labor's decline has been given new life by Morris' book. It provides us with an articulate description of existing legal rights we didn't know we had and a new way that workers can follow to organize their own union without the frustrating experience of an NLRB election procedure."—David Cohen, Portside.org

"The careful and expert 'journey of legal rediscovery' Charles Morris provides in The Blue Eagle at Work starts the overdue process of restoring voice to the millions of American workers who want and need it. The Blue Eagle might just fly again!"—Thomas A. Kochan, MIT Sloan School of Management

"The Blue Eagle at Work combines the creativity and expertise that have marked Charles Morris's lifelong commitment to working people, to social justice, and to legal scholarship. His new book provides penetrating insights into the origins of U.S. law on workers' freedom of association and the still-prevailing legal protection for workers acting together, whether or not they are a majority in the workplace. Morris has painstakingly brought back to life long-dormant principles and effective legal theories for advancing workers' rights. Trade unionists, labor educators, and other worker advocates seeking innovative ideas for workplace action and organizing should start their new day with The Blue Eagle at Work."—Lance Compa, School of Industrial and Labor Relations, Cornell University

"Charles J. Morris has produced a book of exceptional merit. It is truly original, well written, and well reasoned. It takes a giant step beyond other books by arguing not only for protected concerted action for minority unions but also for the more formal step of recognition and actual collective bargaining between an employer and a minority union."—Hoyt Wheeler, author of The Future of the American Labor Movement

"The Blue Eagle at Work deals with an issue critical to the survival of private-sector labor organizations in the United States. In it, Charles J. Morris has taken a long-forgotten topic and brought it to life. Morris presents a cogent and analytical framework to support his underlying thesis in favor of minority union bargaining rights. He has looked at different legal and philosophical ideas to support his assertion and done so in such a persuasive manner that he was able to convince me despite my initial skepticism."—Charles B. Craver, George Washington University Law School

"In an effort to explain how federal labor law has come to its present highly unsatisfactory state, Charles J. Morris has undertaken a scholarly historical inquiry into a neglected facet of labor law and labor relations—collective bargaining in the absence of an exclusive employee bargaining representative. I highly recommend this book to anyone concerned about the current state of labor relations and labor law in the United States."—Linda Chavez-Thompson, Executive Vice President, AFL-CIO

"Charles J. Morris's book will serve as a road map to recovery for the labor movement. His work is a must-read for all involved in labor relations and those concerned with expanding democracy. I believe it to be the most important and best work available on labor law and organizing. I am convinced that soon all union organizers will adopt his understandings."—John Lambiase, President of UE District Council 6

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801443176
  • Publisher: Cornell University Press
  • Publication date: 11/18/2004
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 6.20 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.10 (d)

Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction : the blue eagle is not extinct : its labor law is alive and ready to fly 1
1 Membership-based collective bargaining, the Norris-LaGuardia Act, and section 7(a) of the National Industrial Recovery Act 17
2 Prelude to the Wagner Act : the 1934 labor disputes bill and the state of labor relations under the blue eagle 41
3 The NLRA bill in Congress : what happened on the way to passage 56
4 How lack of wisdom became conventional wisdom : union elections are habit-forming 81
5 The search for the phantom provision : the statutory text means exactly what it says 91
6 The Constitutional dimension : with deference to Catholic Bishop, DeBartolo, and Beck 110
7 The Chevron two-step process as an alternative approach : national labor relations board approval would represent a rational construction consistent with the Act 131
8 The international human-rights dimension and U.S. obligations under international law 140
9 The current state of the law : the issue is defined and the slate is clean 153
10 Obtaining imprimaturs from the labor board and the courts : alternative routes to legal acceptance 173
11 Union organizing through members-only collective bargaining 184
12 Industrial democracy at work : turning Wagner's vision into reality 201
App. to Ch. 2 Relevant provisions in drafts of 1934 "labor disputes" bill and "national adjustment bill" substitute, S. 2926 231
App. to Ch. 3 Relevant provisions in 1935 drafts of "National Labor Relations Act," S. 1958 238
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