How American Workers Lost the Right to Strike, and Other Tales

To paraphrase a veteran labor scholar, if you want to know where the corpses are buried in labor law, look for the “of course” statements in court opinions. By “of course” statements, he meant propositions that are announced as if they were self-evident, requiring no justification. Each year, thousands of law students read such statements in labor law casebooks. And each year, they duly ask themselves – prodded sometimes by the casebook’s notes – how these conclusions could be justified in legal terms. But often there seems to be no answer, and the mystery continues. This Essay recounts the origins of five such “of course” statements, each of which has had a devastating impact on the American labor movement.