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reform, labor, employment, contract, union, management, labor relations, arbitration, employee, employer, free choice act, card check, neutrality, ethics, morals, moral, contractual, dispute, resolution, collective, bargaining, negotiation, ADR, EFCA, NLRA, NLRB

Subject Categories

Business Law, Public Responsibility, and Ethics | Contracts | Dispute Resolution and Arbitration | Government Contracts | Labor and Employment Law | Labor Economics | Labor Relations | Law | Litigation


If laws cease to work as they should or as intended, legislators and scholars propose new laws to replace or amend them. This paper posits an alternative—offering regulated parties the opportunity to contractually bind themselves to behave ethically. The perfect test-case for this proposal is labor law, because (1) labor law has not been amended for decades, (2) proposals to amend it have failed for political reasons, and are focused on union election win rates, and less on the election process itself, (3) it is an area of law already statutorily regulating parties' reciprocal contractual obligations, and (4) moral means of self-regulation derived from contract are more likely to be effective when parties have ongoing relationships like those between management and labor organizations. The paper explains how the current law and proposed amendments fail because they focus on fairness as a function of union win rates, and then outlines a plan to leverage strong moral contractual obligations and related norms of behavior to create as fair a process as possible for employees to vote unions up or down.