|Title||Repurposing American Labor Law: Immigrant Workers, Worker Centers, and the National Labor Relations Act|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||2014|
|Journal||Politics & Society|
|Pagination||489 - 512|
|Keywords||immigrants, institutions, labor movement, law, National Labor Relations Act, NLRA, worker centers|
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) of 1935 has been widely portrayed as an anachronistic piece of legislation that needs to be reformed or abandoned. In the absence of reform, many US labor unions try to avoid the NLRA process altogether by organizing workers outside the confines of the law. But Somos un Pueblo Unido, or “Somos,” a worker center in New Mexico, has been using a novel interpretation of the NLRA less to boost union density than to develop an alternative to contract unionism. By helping nonunionized workers use Section 7 of the NLRA to act concertedly in their own defense, I argue, Somos is combating employer abuse, in the short run, and demonstrating that worker centers and their memberships may be transforming the US labor movement, in the long run. Their experiences illustrate the ability of organizations to redeploy existing institutional resources with potentially transformative results.