May 01, 2017

Chair’s Column

By John J. Beardsworth Jr.

The Supreme Court granted certiorari in January to resolve what may initially appear to observers to be a minor issue of federal statutory interpretation. The National Labor Relations Board has held that it is an unfair labor practice under the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 for employers to require employees to sign mandatory arbitration agreements. The U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals had been unanimous in refusing to enforce the NLRB rule—until last year when the Seventh and Ninth Circuits agreed with the NLRB. In this issue of Infrastructure, Jay Range and Bryan Cleveland examine three controversial cases, resulting in a circuit split that impacts the employment agreements of millions of Americans and potentially will have far reaching implications for other areas of the law. The authors conclude “the once mundane world of alternative dispute resolution has become politicized and divided along party lines over the issue of employee and consumer access to class adjudication.” Also in this issue is the first in a series of articles on the Section’s first 100 years. Compiled and edited by Pete Lacouture, who edited Recent Developments for twelve years, the articles offer a fascinating look into the growth of public utilities and regulated industries in the United States.

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