February 26, 2007

Workplace self-governance—is it obsolete?

Is workplace self-governance a New Deal idea whose time has passed? New York University employment law expert examines the question.

Is workplace self-governance a New Deal idea whose time has passed, or is it a solution to pressing contemporary problems?

Cynthia A. Estlund, the Catherine A. Rein Professor of Law at New York University School of Law and leading scholar of labor and employment law, will examine that question and others during the Rush McKnight Labor Law Lecture on Wednesday, February 28 at 4:30 p.m. at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law. The lecture is presented by CISCDR, the law school's Center for the Interdisciplinary Study of Conflict and Dispute Resolution, and will be held in the Moot Court Room (A59) at the Case Western Reserve University School of Law, 11075 East Boulevard, Cleveland, Ohio. A reception will follow the lecture.

Estlund's talk, "Putting Law to Work: The Resurrection of Workplace Self-Governance?" will focus on the relationship between the workplace and democracy. As union representation and collective bargaining have declined, employment regulations, rights and litigation have proliferated, and employees must assert themselves to make sure their rights are protected, says Estlund.

"In response, firms have put in place internal compliance and dispute resolution systems that aim to, and sometimes do, deflect regulation and litigation," said Estlund. "If employees continue to be shut out of these self-regulatory systems, the result may be a disguised form of deregulation. But if employees can gain an effective voice in these systems, the result could be improved regulation and a revival of workplace self-governance."

In much of Estlund's recent work ("The Ossification of American Labor Law," Columbia Law Review 2002; "Rebuilding the Law of the Workplace in an Era of Self-Regulation," Columbia Law Review 2005; and a current book project), she chronicles the current crisis of workplace governance brought about by the decline of collective bargaining and the shortcomings of both regulation and litigation, and charts a potential path out of that crisis.

"We're fortunate to have one of the country's leading experts in labor and employment law talk to our students and the community about this emerging employment issue," said Calvin Sharpe, John Deaver Drinko-Baker & Hostetler Professor and director of CISCDR, "Cynthia Estlund is not only an educator and author, but a champion and advocate of fairness in the workplace."

In her book Working Together: How Workplace Bonds Strengthen a Diverse Democracy, Estlund argued that the workplace is a site of both comparatively successful integration and intense cooperation and sociability, and explored the implications for democratic theory and for labor and employment law. Her other writings focus on freedom of speech and procedural fairness at work; diversity, integration and affirmative action; and the significance of property rights in labor law.

One free hour of CLE credit is available for lawyers who attend in person. For more information, call 216-368-3304 or visit http://law.case.edu/lectures. The lecture will be webcast live at http://law.case.edu/lectures.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Posted by: Heidi Cool, February 26, 2007 01:38 PM | News Topics: Events, HeadlinesMain, Lectures/Speakers, Public Policy/Politics

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