This Article introduces and frames a symposium issue of Harvard Law School’s Unbound, Journal of the Legal Left that is devoted to an assessment of Local 1330, United Steel Workers v. U.S. Steel (6th Cir. 1980) on the 30th anniversary of the decision. The Author provides a historical and legal context for the federal courts’ decisions on the Steelworkers’ novel community property and contractual claims brought by the plaintiffs in an effort to prevent U.S. Steel from closing its manufacturing operations Youngtown, Ohio. In this context, the Author discusses the relationship of the plaintiffs’ community property claim to the origins of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) Act of 1988 and to the “new” property claims addressed in the landmark welfare rights case, Goldberg v. Kelly (S. Ct. 1970). The Author explains that the strategy to stop plant closings in the 1970s and 80s was not limited to litigation or legislative reform and that the movement to stop plant closings thirty years ago provides an historical antecedent to the current mobilizations of union workers in 2011 that are challenging efforts to curtail the labor rights of public sector employees in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states.
7 Unbound 55 (2011)