Labor Law, Unions and the NLRA in a Post-Pandemic World

Course Information

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Meeting Times

Day Time Location
WED 5:00 - 7:45 pm TNH 3.142

Evaluation Method

Type Date Time Location


Same as LAW 361K, Labor Law.

Labor Law:  The NLRA, Unions and Workers’ Rights in a Post-Pandemic World

In this time of unparalleled job market insecurity in the wake of an international pandemic, employee workplace protests and strikes have proliferated in a manner not seen since the 1930s. While surveys show that 68% of Americans approve of labor unions--the highest since 1965--unionization rates are at an historic low of 6-10%. President Biden describes himself as “the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history.” In this critical moment in history, does the 85-year old National Labor Relations Act adequately protect employees who wish to organize and protest, particularly when many of these employees are daily risking their lives to provide essential services?

This seminar style course (limited to 20 students) will be an untraditional introduction to labor law with an emphasis on participation and debate. In addition to studying the NLRA, the structure of the NLRB and the foundational case law interpreting the Act, we will discuss the reasons for the decline in unionization, current obstacles to union representation, as well as the PRO Act, the legislative proposal backed by the Biden Administration and organized labor. We will also debate current labor topics, such as: the proliferation of workplace demonstrations and organizing campaigns (particularly in the tech, fast food, education, healthcare and childcare industries), unionizing in the gig economy; whether graduate students and/or college athletes should be entitled to unionize; protected speech in the workplace; whether the collective bargaining regime adequately offers workers the ability to address racial and gender injustice in the workplace; and collective bargaining among law enforcement officers and other public sector employees.  Throughout the course, we will examine the history and values underlying the law, including the economic and political interests that have influenced its development.

Students will prepare a final project and paper of their own choosing (in lieu of a final exam) and be tasked with weekly debate topics. 

  • Guest speakers will include NLRB officials, as well as union and management side labor counsel. 
  • Professors Spielberg and Avendano collectively have more than 50 years experience in the field of labor law, having worked for the NLRB, for union and union-side firms, and in the private sector.

  Students will gain exposure to and familiarity with how labor law manifests in the contemporary legal and organizing landscape through interactions with individual practitioners/partner organizations focused on workers’ rights. 

Textbooks ( * denotes required )

Labor Law : A Problem-Based Approach *
Secunda, Paul M., Hirsch, Jeffrey M., and Duff, Michael C.
Carolina Academic Press , edition: 2
ISBN: 978-1-5310-0136-0


Headshot of Avendano, Ana L Avendano, Ana L
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Important Class Changes

Date Updated
01/11/2022 Room(s) changed