The Continuing Relevance of Section 8(a)(2) to the Contemporary Workplace

After embarking on his illustrious career as a legal academic, Theodore St. Antoine, through a multitude of roles, including those of scholar, teacher, administrator, pragmatic law reformer, and arbitrator, made innumerable contributions to the practice and development of many parts of American law. For most of us, however, as a scholar he will be associated primarily with the system of collective bargaining established and encouraged by the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and its progeny. During the first part of Professor St. Antoine’s years as an academic, this system continued to flourish in America, as he, along with other legal scholars of his generation, helped explain how and why. By the end of the 1970s and Professor St. Antoine’s decanal years, however, as the decline in union density spread to industries such as construction, manufacturing, and transportation, where unions had been most successful, the erosion of the system could no longer be ignored. In the 1980s and 1990s, the decline of unions and collective bargaining in the private sector has continued in the shadow of expanding global competition, international capital mobility, and associated economic deregulation. In response, a range of legal academics have argued that the labor law taught by Professor St. Antoine must be significantly transformed in order to fulfill collective bargaining’s appealing promise to American workers of having a democratically based and independent influence on their conditions of employment.