This Article is occasioned by the state of crisis which the labor and civil rights movements have simultaneously entered. It attempts to develop new ways of understanding the historical origins of the present crises. My purpose is to contribute to the discussion of class and race in American life by exploring a series of parallels, convergences, and connections between labor law and civil rights law. The particular focus of the Article is on certain limitations of collective bargaining law and an instrument for achieving democracy in the workplace and upon certain limitations of civil rights law as a process for achieving an end to racial domination.

My central argument is that there is a basic structural similarity between the limitations contained within each of the two bodies of law. This suggests that we might be able to identify a set of interconnected reasons why the labor and civil rights movements now find themselves in such difficulty.

Part I sets forth the scope and boundaries of what this Article attempts to achieve. Parts II and III attempt to specify and describe the "homology"- the matched structure- of the problematical aspects of labor law and of civil rights law. Part IV will illustrate the preceding arguments through a close reexamination of the great labor and civil rights case of Steele v. Louisville & Nashville Railroad Col. Part V explores some implications of the argument which concern the intertwined futures of the movement for workplace democracy and the movement for racial equality.


Originally published in Oregon Law Review, Vol. 61, No. 2, pp. 157-200, 1982.


labor law, collective bargaining




University of Oregon School of Law

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Copyright 1982 by Karl E. Klare.

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