Workers are increasingly powerless in the 21st-century economy. Working people have few rights on the job, corporations and wealthy individuals hold outsized influence in politics and policymaking, economic inequality is vast and deep, and economic mobility is out of reach for most. Most notably, the unionization rate—a key measure of worker voice and worker agency—has dropped rapidly since the early 1980s.
These trends all underscore the need for fundamental labor law reform in America. In Rebuilding Worker Voice in Today’s Economy, Kate Andrias and Brishen Rogers argue that labor law reform in the U.S. must be guided by one core principle: It must guarantee all workers a voice in their workplaces, in the broader economy, and in our democracy.
To achieve this principle, the authors propose four key ways to rewrite labor law:
- Labor law should provide rights to all workers, in all economic sectors.
- Labor law should protect and promote workplace unionization.
- Labor law should encourage sectoral-level bargaining.
- Labor law should protect workers’ fundamental rights to strike, picket, and engage in other collective action.
We cannot have an inclusive and just society until workers truly have a voice. Labor law reform alone, however, will not foster economic and political equality, nor can it fully tackle the challenges facing workers in America today. Rebuilding a more just and equal economy and democracy will be a long-term project. Fundamental, structural labor law reform is central to that project.