In the fall of 1988, the U.S. Congress passed a bill requiring that employers with more than 100 employees provide 60 days’ advance notification to affected workers in the event of a major reduction in the plant’s work force. The reaction of employers, of their associations, and, indeed, of a wide spectrum of American conservatives was quite predictable. For them, employment was seen as equivalent to any other kind of economic contract, and the imposition of a state-mandated notification requirement was perceived as one more example of unnecessary government interference in the operation of free markets. In opposing this legislation vigorously, and ultimately successfully, business leaders were carrying on a long ideological tradition of asserting the primary of the “employment-at-will” doctrine. The essence of this doctrine is that, unlike serfs or indentured servants, workers in a capitalist economy are free to quit, and employers are free to discharge them, whenever and for whatever reason they choose. Of course, if the plant-closing law had gone into effect, employment relations would have changed dramatically for those American workers whose jobs were held on a purely employment-at-will basis.
KeywordsLabor Market Human Capital Procedural Justice Rational Theory Employment Relation
Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.