Richard Epstein examines the deregulatory progress being made by the Trump Administration, explains the new tax law’s implication for blue states, and imagines the consequences of a world in which the US withdraws from NAFTA.

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Published in: Culture, Law

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  1. Michael Shaw Thatcher
    Michael Shaw

    With all due respect for Professor Epstein I must disagree with the learned gentleman on the subject of “for cause” versus “at will” dismissal. My understanding of the subject comes from working in an unionized environment in the railway industry for over thirty five years.

    Of course an employee may be held out of service for unsatisfactory performance, dishonesty, insubordination et cetera but only dismissed after such allegations have been substantiated by a fair and impartial investigation. This is not to say employees of a union shop are guaranteed lifetime employment. The employer may abolish redundant positions due to reductions in the volume of business, technological or organizational changes “at will” but but the affected employees are then permitted to displace, or “bump,” junior employees from position for which they are qualified.

    Such a cascade of “bumping” continues until the junior most employees are laid off or “furloughed” in Railway parlance. Such arrangements accomplish two things: the employer may shed unsatisfactory employes for cause and still seek operational efficiencies by shedding redundant positions at will provided that the protocols mandated by the collective agreement are met.

    The introduction of automated I.T. systems, particularly in the 90’s, led to redundancies among some some very senior (30+ years) positions on the railway that employed me. While senior management was vexed by the subsequent cascade of bumping they could have, as Professor Epstein suggested, given the affected employees a month severance per year of service prior to superannuation. Offering senior staff as much as three years paid vacation prior to retirement? They would have snapped that up in a heartbeat and prevented a lot of grief for junior employees and in the executive suites alike.

    I truly due admire the learning and judgement of Richard Epstein and really enjoy this podcast but these labour contract protocols have been worked out before either of us were born. To arbitrarily change them now would only invite strikes and economic disruption. As the old adage says “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”


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