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59 Harv. J. on Legis. 1 (2022)

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       LABOR LAW REFORM AT A CRITICAL

 JUNCTURE: THE CASE FOR THE PROTECTING

             THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE ACT



      REPRESENTATIVE ANDY LEVIN* & COLTON PUCKETTt


                            I.  INTRODUCTION


     Despite  increasing public support for unions  over  the past four de-
cades,1 nationwide union  membership  is at its lowest point since 1936, just
one year after the passage of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA   or
Wagner   Act).2
     Designed  around  the concept  of enterprise-level bargaining-that  is,
collective bargaining  at individual worksites or  firms-the   Wagner   Act
helped usher in a new  era of organizing, which led to increased union den-
sity and bargaining power.3 With this bargaining power, unions had the abil-
ity to  reach  some   of the  most  worker-friendly   collective bargaining
agreements  in U.S.  history.4 And although  enterprise bargaining was  the
norm,  workers in high-density sectors like the steel and auto industries were
able to leverage their power to utilize a strategy called pattern bargaining




   * Member, United States House of Representatives (D-MI). B.A., Williams College, 1983;
M.A., University of Michigan, 1990; J.D., Harvard Law School, 1994. Congressman Levin
serves on the House Committee on Education and Labor and the House Foreign Affairs Com-
mittee. He began his career as a union organizer for SEIU in the 1980s and served as Assistant
Director of Organizing at the AFL-CIO from 1995-2006. He is one of the lead sponsors of the
Protecting the Right to Organize Act. The authors would like to thank Jacob Wilson and Kyle
deCant for their valuable assistance.
   tB.S., University of Louisville, 2011; J.D., Tulane University Law School, 2014. Mr.
Puckett served as Representative Levin's inaugural Labor Law Fellow from September 2019 to
September 2021.
    'See Megan Brenan, At 65%, Approval of Labor Unions in U.S. Remains High, GALLUP
(Sept. 3, 2020), https://news.gallup.com/poll/318980/approval-labor-unions-remains-high.aspx
[https://perma.cc/2ZWG-J2BW]; Thomas Kochan, Duanyi Yang, Erin L. Kelly & Will Kim-
ball, Who Wants to Join a Union? A Growing Number of Americans, THE CONVERSATION
(Aug. 30, 2018), https://theconversation.com/who-wants-to-join-a-union-a-growing-number-
of-americans-102374 [https://perma.cc/CN9X-9TQ2]; see generally RICHARD B. FREEMAN &
JOEL ROGERS, WHAT WORKERS WANT  (2006).
    2 GERALD MAYER, LIBR. OF CONG., UNION MEMBERSHIP TRENDS IN THE UNITED STATES
23 (2004), https://ecommons.cornell.edu/handle/1813/77776 [https://perma.cc/4F5V-LKPM].
    s Prior to the Wagner Act, the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 similarly encouraged the
collective action of workers by, among other things, prohibiting employers from requiring
workers to agree not to join a union as a condition of employment (so-called yellow dog
contracts) and preventing courts from enjoining activity stemming from a labor dispute under a
variety of circumstances. See 29 U.S.C. §§ 101-15 (2018).
    4 Kate Andrias, The New Labor Law, 126 YALE L.J. 2, 19 (2016); see also HOUSE COMM.
ON EDUC. & LAB., U.S. HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES, THE FUTURE OF WORK: How CONGRESS
CAN SUPPORT WORKERS IN THE MODERN ECONOMY (2020), https://edlabor.house.gov/imo/me
dia/doc/Future%20of%20Work%20Report%20(FINAL).pdf [https://perma.cc/2MP9-5BNB].

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