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The Growing Divergence in U.S. Employee Relations: Individualism, Democracy, and Conflict


  • Norlander, Peter


The growing divergence in U.S. employee relations is described through a review of national and state-level changes to employment protection laws. Major employment laws are reviewed, as are the significant exceptions to the laws, and exemptions to the exceptions. Major regulatory actions, as well as reversals of the regulations, and reversals of the reversals are also described. An analysis of changes to state employment policies since 2000 shows an increasing ideologically driven divergence within the country between left-leaning “equity and voice” states and right-leaning “individual rights and efficiency” states. Instability and divergence are major features of the U.S. system of employee relations that require additional scrutiny.

Suggested Citation

  • Norlander, Peter, 2019. "The Growing Divergence in U.S. Employee Relations: Individualism, Democracy, and Conflict," GLO Discussion Paper Series 321, Global Labor Organization (GLO).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:glodps:321

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    References listed on IDEAS

    1. Arindrajit Dube & T. William Lester & Michael Reich, 2016. "Minimum Wage Shocks, Employment Flows, and Labor Market Frictions," Journal of Labor Economics, University of Chicago Press, vol. 34(3), pages 663-704.
    2. Paul OSTERMAN, 2008. "Improving the quality of low-wage work: The current American experience," International Labour Review, International Labour Organization, vol. 147(2-3), pages 115-134, June.
    3. James Feigenbaum & Alexander Hertel-Fernandez & Vanessa Williamson, 2018. "From the Bargaining Table to the Ballot Box: Political Effects of Right to Work Laws," NBER Working Papers 24259, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    4. M. J. Piore, 1972. "Notes for a Theory of Labor Market Stratification," Working papers 95, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Department of Economics.
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    More about this item


    Employee relations; employment protection; federalism; divergence;

    JEL classification:

    • J50 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor-Management Relations, Trade Unions, and Collective Bargaining - - - General
    • J80 - Labor and Demographic Economics - - Labor Standards - - - General
    • H77 - Public Economics - - State and Local Government; Intergovernmental Relations - - - Intergovernmental Relations; Federalism

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