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Individual Rights and Collective Agents

Individual Rights and Collective Agents

The Role of Old and New Workplace Institutions in the Regulation of Labor Markets

(p.13) 1 Individual Rights and Collective Agents
Emerging Labor Market Institutions for the Twenty-First Century
David Weil
University of Chicago Press

As representatives of individual employees, labor market institutions can affect the process of workplace regulation in two very different ways. First, they can affect the political process in passing legislation and, through executive agencies, in promulgating regulations—that is, the enactment of labor policies. Second, they can affect the way that those laws and regulations are enforced or administered—that is, the implementation of labor laws. This chapter examines the role of agents in the implementation of workplace policies. It begins with a discussion of federal labor regulations in the United States and the roles they establish for workers through the provision of individually based worker rights. It then analyzes the requirements of workplace institutions in fulfilling those roles. It then evaluates a variety of labor market institutions—beginning with labor unions as a benchmark—that potentially serve the role as agents. The chapter concludes by considering how policies might be adapted to foster agents better able to serve the two central roles of labor market intermediaries in implementing labor regulations.

Keywords:   worker rights, agents, labor market institutions, United States, implementation, labor market, labor unions, labor laws, workplace policies

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