Thomas Geoghegan

Thomas Geoghegan is a Chicago-based attorney and writer, and author of See You in Court: How the Right Made America a Lawsuit Nation (The New Press, October 2007) and other books.

Recent Articles

Fair Trade

What can the left "trade off" to get labor law reform? Organized labor's down to 7.4 percent of private sector workers. The big split, between the AFL-CIO and Change to Win, failed to bring on a new golden age of organizing. It seems the only hope is a new labor law. And labor has a dream bill: the George Miller-authored "Employee Free Choice Act." It has more than a dozen Senate sponsors -- Kennedy, Clinton, Obama, all the party's big guns. It might really work. It would make U.S. labor law like Canada's, maybe even stronger. It would let employees get unions just by signing cards -- without having to run what can be a four- to five-year gauntlet of lawsuits, firings, intimidation, and all the bells and whistles of union-busting campaigns. How big would it be for the left? How about, it's the last chance to rein in the plutocracy and curb inequality. How about, nothing else but this bill will help out working families -- not more college loans, not more college B.A.'s, nothing but a...

Dear Brother Sweeney: An Open Letter to Labor's New Leader

Get out of Washington, hire the idealistic young, and turn Labor back into a movement.

W ith John Sweeney as the new president of the AFL-CIO, we now have a labor leader too militant for the New York Times . The Times is partly upset because Sweeney's union, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), once blocked the Roosevelt Bridge in D.C., as part of the Justice for Janitors Campaign. In Washington, this may be the one type of gridlock that can get the country moving. There may be some symmetry in Sweeney's election as president of the AFL-CIO and the gutting of Medicare in the Republican House the same week. This historian Fernand Braudel observed an inverse relation between "the welfare state" and "labor militancy." In Europe, he wrote, labor was most militant before the welfare state took hold. Well, wasn't U.S. Labor stronger before the Great Society? Does that mean Gingrich's moment is Sweeney's moment? Not yet, no. Sweeney's challenge is just to keep a spark alive, even if it's just 10 percent of the private sector, unitl there is a break in the...

You're Being Robbed

A few simple ideas on how to revive labor and liberalism.

WORKS DISCUSSED IN THIS ESSAY Commission on the Future of Worker-Management Relations. (Dunlop Commission) Volume I: Fact-Finding; Volume II: Report and Recommendations (Government Printing Office, 1994) A ll my labor friends got to testify before the Dunlop Commission, so it's natural that I'd be jealous and inclined to pan it. But as I read the report, I was impressed by how fine, how readable a document it is. The compromise the authors try to broker is also ingenious, with its trade-offs intended to persuade business and the Republicans to let the unions come back. Maybe the Wagner Act, our existing labor law, could really have worked. It is depressing to think that with a little wrench in the legal gears, we might not have had to lose our unions, our high wages, the whole promise of American working life. Alas, the regime of labor relations has crashed. For several decades, we have been trying to revive it. Maybe it's time to stop. The Dunlop Report is surely the last gasp. I...