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During the past thirty years, the American workplace has undergone fundamental changes in the composition of its workforce, its technology, its financial structure, and its competitive position. These social and economic transformations have been paralleled by equally profound changes in the legal framework of the employment relationship. The National Labor Relations Act has proved incapable of protecting the long-established right of employees to union representation against growing resistance by employers. And to fill the gap created by the decline of unions, the legislatures and courts have been busy creating and enforcing many new individual employee rights.
Governing the Workplace addresses this new world of work. Its main concern is with the question of who will represent the interests of workers in major decisions about their lives: how and when they will be hired, fired, and retired, and how they will be treated when they are on the job. The book examines in vivid detail many real-life problems, ranging from wrongful dismissal and mandatory drug testing to pay equity and occupational safety, to employee involvement on the shop floor and in the corporate boardroom. Should workers be represented by a lawyer in the courtroom, by a government official in charge of an administrative program, by the employer’s personnel manager, by the union leader engaged in collective bargaining with the employer, or by the employees themselves participating in a committee that exercises real influence inside the firm? After undertaking a systematic appraisal of each of these options, leading labor lawyer Paul Weiler develops a blueprint for the reconstruction of the law of the workplace, especially designed to give American workers more effective representation.