Labor and Employment Law

Topic Leader: Ellen Dannin

Not Just Jobs, but Good Jobs.


Law has played a critically important role in protecting and progressively improving the quality of American jobs. For decades, the quality of U.S. jobs was maintained by an ecosystem of laws that mandated employee rights to freedom of association, to choose union representation, and to bargain collectively; to work in safe and healthful conditions and to be paid compensation and be provided medical care and rehabilitation when workplace injuries occurred; to be paid promised wages, receive fair wages, and not be overworked; to receive financial support when unemployed and looking for a new job; to receive promised workplace benefits; to be protected from invidious discrimination and harassment at work; and to preserve rights to privacy.


However, in recent years, the quality of jobs now available has declined on all fronts. Reasons for this decline include the smaller percentage of workers who are union members and covered by collective bargaining, years of high unemployment that have left workers willing to accept any job and not report violations of their workplace rights, and erosion of workplace laws, including through judicial decisions that limit rights. For the United States to prosper, what is needed is not just jobs, but good jobs for all. Good jobs are the foundation because, in the United States, more than in other major countries, benefits and other rights are tied to jobs.

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