Hastings Law Journal


Ruben J. Garcia


Recently, scholars have pointed to race and gender identity groups in unions as a source of division within the working class, while other scholars have pointed to them as alternatives to traditional unions and more responsive to issues of race and gender in the workplace. In this Article, Professor Garcia argues that race and gender identity caucuses are neither a source of division in the labor movement today, nor are they viable alternatives to traditional unions. In spite of the National Labor Relations Act's subordination of minority rights to majority rule, this Article finds that women and people of color in union-based identity caucuses maintain a strong faith in traditional unions.

Using the lenses of critical legal theory and legal realism, Professor Garcia argues for the importance of identity caucuses in the labor movement from critical perspectives, and the need for strong unified unions in the global economic context from a realist perspective. Although the legal environment in which identity caucuses operate is dominated by the "exclusive representative" rule that names the union as the sole bargaining representative for the entire unit certified by the National Labor Relations Board, this rule is not an obstacle to the functioning of identity caucuses. Through case studies and interviews with members of identity caucuses, Professor Garcia finds that members of these groups are not troubled by exclusivity, but they do favor a place for identity caucuses in the labor movement today. Thus, reforms to the law of union democracy may enhance the voice of union race and gender caucuses within the labor movement even in a system of exclusive representation.

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