Fulfilling the Pledge
Securing Industrial Democracy for American Workers in a Digital Economy
306 pp., 6 x 9 in,
- Published: February 13, 2024
- Publisher: The MIT Press
An insightful and evidence-based assessment of our urgent need to enact labor law reform—and how to achieve it.
Millions of non-union workers want unionization, but our current labor-management relations law conspires to deny them meaningful opportunities to secure collective workplace representation. The resulting low rates of collective bargaining impose economic, political, and social costs on us all. In Fulfilling the Pledge, Roger Hartley addresses the plight of American workers, who face a grim, uncertain future, as the digital workplace reshapes the hierarchical post–World War II industrial relations system that once gave workers a voice. Through empirical evidence and the lens of law and policy, Hartley examines what industrial sociologists call the chronic “representation gap” and clarifies how a wide-ranging movement could build a vocal constituency for the congressional enactment of labor law reform.
The pledge made in the 1935 National Labor Relations Act to encourage establishment of industrial democracy—where workers possess a voice in their places of work—remains unfulfilled. Speaking to policymakers, scholars, historians, and the average citizen, Fulfilling the Pledge makes a compelling case for collective workplace representation that serves the greater good, even as American labor relations law continues to undermine collective bargaining by workers and becomes an increasingly significant political and social issue.
“Confirming that workers want union representation and asserting that collective bargaining is in the public's interest, Roger Hartley's Fulfilling the Pledge sets forth in non-legalese a long-needed, comprehensive, achievable and non-ideological program of procedural and substantive labor law reform that, if implemented, would fulfill the often-broken but never disavowed pledge of the Wagner Act that the federal government would encourage collective bargaining and protect workers in the exercise of their freedom of association and self-organization.”
James Gross, Professor Emeritus, Labor Relations, Law, and History, Cornell University
“Roger Hartley's spirited deconstruction of the way courts and employers have distorted American labor law provides a forceful argument for a radical and comprehensive reform. His highly readable book offers workers, unions, legislators, and government officials the road map they need to envision once again the industrial democracy that was the animating ethos put forward by the framers of the 1935 Wagner Act.”
Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara; author of A Fabulous Failure: the Clinton Presidency and the Transformation of American Capitalism