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Changing Concepts of Worker Rights in the Work Place

Theodore J. St. Antoine
The Annals of the American Academy of Political and Social Science
Vol. 473, The Future of American Unionism (May, 1984), pp. 108-115
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/1043742
Page Count: 8
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Changing Concepts of Worker Rights in the Work Place
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Abstract

Under the traditional doctrine of employment at will, contracts of hire can ordinarily be terminated by either party at any time for any reason. The Wagner Act of 1935 and union contracts provide some protection for employees. In addition, public employees enjoy constitutional and statutory safeguards. But about 70 percent of the total labor force still has no guarantee against arbitrary action by employers. A most significant development of the past decade has been increasing judicial modification of the at-will principle to prevent grosser abuses. Civil rights legislation has outlawed job discrimination based on race, sex, religion, national origin, and age. Other statutes have been enacted to promote the physical safety and economic well-being of workers. Nevertheless, voluntarism remains the distinctive characteristic of American labor relations. Not even an employer's legitimate regard for profit making or the public's justified concern for a productive economy should totally override the workers' claim to a voice in the decisions of ongoing enterprises that will vitally affect their future job opportunities. The law should encourage the trend toward participative management.

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