The End of American Labor Unions
The Right-to-Work Movement and the Erosion of Collective Bargaining
by Raymond L. Hogler
March 2015, 192pp, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
1 volume, Praeger

Hardcover: 978-1-4408-3239-0
$55, £43, 48€, A76
eBook Available: 978-1-4408-3240-6
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Union membership in the U.S. has fallen to its lowest point in 60 years.

By examining the history of the legal regulation of union actions, this fascinating book offers a new interpretation of American labor-law policy—and its harmful impact on workers today.

Arguing that the decline in union membership and bargaining power is linked to rising income inequality, this important book traces the evolution of labor law in America from the first labor-law case in 1806 through the passage of right-to-work legislation in Michigan and Indiana in 2012. In doing so, it shares important insights into economic development, exploring both the nature of work in America and the part the legal system played—and continues to play—in shaping the lives of American workers.

The book illustrates the intertwined history of labor law and politics, showing how these forces quashed unions in the 19th century, allowed them to flourish in the mid-20th century, and squelched them again in recent years. Readers will learn about the negative impact of union decline on American workers and how that decline has been influenced by political forces. They will see how the right-to-work and Tea Party movements have combined to prevent union organizing, to the detriment of the middle class. And they will better understand the current failure to reform labor law, despite a consensus that unions can protect workers without damaging market efficiencies.


  • Provides a unique interpretation of labor law from a multidisciplinary perspective that encompasses history, politics, economics, culture, and psychology
  • Considers the role organized labor played in creating the American middle class and what role it might play in the future
  • Shows the adverse consequences of the contemporary right-to-work movement
  • Examines the politicized nature of law in America
  • Offers recommendations for political action to restore union vitality
Raymond L. Hogler is professor of management at Colorado State University in Fort Collins, CO. He previously taught at the University of Tuscia in Viterbo, Italy, as a Fulbright Distinguished Chair of Labor Law and at Pennsylvania State University in State College. In addition to having published a number of articles on employment law and policy, he is the author of Employment Relations in the United States: Law, Policy, and Practice.


"A critically important and timely study . . . The End of American Labor Unions is an extraordinary read and a fundamentally imperative addition to academic library reference American Labor History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists."—Midwest Book Review, May 20, 2015

"The End Of American Labor Unions is a good little book, packed with insight and analysis. . . . [It] is very much worth the read."—People's World, August 13, 2015

"Hogler’s claim that hierarchical individualism breeds distrust, undermining solidarity, offers potentially fruitful insights into not merely unions' troubles but also perhaps into conservatism’s broader political strategy. Summing Up: Recommended. Undergraduate, graduate, research, and professional collections."—Choice, December 1, 2015

"The End of American Labor Unions is a tour de force. . . . This is an outstanding work of scholarship, which should be compulsory reading for those with an interest in the legal basis that underpins the workings of society, more generally, and the legal strictures that have been and are continuing to drain the life out of American unions."—Labor History, February 11, 2016
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