Labor’s Legacy: The Construction of Subnational Work Regulation

Daniel J. Galvin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


In recent decades, much of the authority to regulate the workplace has shifted from national-level labor law to state-level employment law. What contributions, if any, did labor unions make to this historic shift in workplace governance? The author uses quantitative and qualitative analyses to test hypotheses and move incrementally closer toward drawing causal inferences. In the first part, he finds a strong statistical relationship between union density and state employment law enactments. Next, analyzing the cases the model identifies as “deviant” (Pennsylvania and Maine), he uses systematic process tracing to test the hypothesis that labor unions were integral players in legislative campaigns for stronger employment laws. Strong evidence supports the hypothesis that labor unions, even as they declined, contributed to the construction of this new system of subnational work regulation—arguably one of their most significant and durable legacies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1103-1131
Number of pages29
JournalILR Review
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 2021


  • employment law
  • labor law
  • policy
  • politics
  • state legislature
  • unions

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Strategy and Management
  • Organizational Behavior and Human Resource Management
  • Management of Technology and Innovation


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