After reading this chapter, you should understand the following:
- How collective bargaining was resisted for many years in the United States, and how political and economic changes resulted in legalization of labor unions
- The four major federal labor laws in the United States
- The process by which bargaining units are recognized by the National Labor Relations Board
- The various kinds of unfair labor practices that employers might engage in, and those that unions and their members might engage in
Over half a century, the federal law of labor relations has developed out of four basic statutes into an immense body of cases and precedent regulating the formation and governance of labor unions and the relationships among employers, unions, and union members. Like antitrust law, labor law is a complex subject that has spawned a large class of specialized practitioners. Though specialized, it is a subject that no employer of any size can ignore, for labor law has a pervasive influence on how business is conducted throughout the United States. In this chapter, we examine the basic statutory framework and the activities that it regulates.