The Clinton administration’s 1993 decision to establish a Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations has opened a far-ranging debate about the U.S. collective bargaining system. Organized labor generally argues that its priority should be strengthening workers’ rights to organize and bargain under the current system. But most academic commentators—and probably a majority of the commissioners—emphasize the need to foster worker-management cooperation and to extend “employee representation” to the 85 percent of workers without unions.
I for one don’t see the two streams of reform as necessarily opposed: workers do deserve greater protections in exercising both their collective and their individual rights to representation. At the same time, all of the most prominent labor law reform proposals have a common failing: they do not fully respond to the representational needs of the new service work force, a majority of whom are women and minorities....
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