Labor Day 2015: Affirming worker dignity

(Image courtesy

(Image courtesy

Folks, I don’t have any huge epiphanies for this Labor Day 2015. We simply must plow forward to affirm human dignity in our workplaces, and so the task remains before us.

However, I do want to take this opportunity to remind us of the importance of quality labor unions, especially in the lowest-paying vocations. Without the labor movement, the quest for worker dignity has no chance of success.

In my 2009 law review article, “Human Dignity and American Employment Law” (University of Richmond Law Review), I devoted a fair amount of space to discussing the labor movement as a centerpiece for affirming worker dignity. I noted how union membership levels have been in a consistent and sharp decline in the U.S., often prompted by virulent anti-union messaging and intimidation campaigns by employers. I also outlined the benefits of union membership to many workers, including higher wages, better benefits, and safer working conditions.

If you want to understand the bigger framework concerning worker dignity and the law in the U.S., please read the full article (freely downloadable pdf here), which runs under 50 pages. If you want to read only the portions specifically about unions and collective bargaining, you may read pages 532-34 and 556-58.

In writing the article, I made an extra effort to keep it as free of legal jargon and mumbo jumbo as possible. If you do take the time to read the whole thing, I think you’ll find it a worthwhile effort. The piece is now some six years old, but the basic points still ring very true.

4 responses

  1. David, thank you. Labor & Unions have so few positive articles these days. I personally have been in my Union (Ironworkers) for 63 years and have been able to retire with dignity due to the pension from my Union which I paid for, but which was protected & invested by the joint trustees of Union & our contractors. God bless them all. Gordon Driscoll

  2. David On this Labor Day so many workers are humiliated and demeaned I wish much of what you write about would have impact but the sad reality is employees are subject to all the dysfunctional abuse employees want to hand out The legal process is totally useless and employees suffer more when they realize they have no recourse. If you need a good case story let me know.


  3. Pingback: Attention Colleague Larry Shore « The WORD Blog

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