Legal Principles in Contingent and Nonstandard Work Job Security

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Katherine Stone argues that the change from an industrial-based economy to a knowledge-based economy has dramatically altered the traditional U.S. labor structure that has been in place since roughly the 1930's. Whereas in the past, there has been an implicit psychological contract between employees and employers exchanging loyalty for job security, the new economy does not offer such a promise.


Beyond the implicit contract, unions were also successful in protecting against termination, requiring "just cause" instead of the more current employer flexibility of "at will" employment1.
The ushering in of the boundaryless workplace has dismantled much of the New Deal labor structure, and has put a premium on individual skills and knowledge. Employees have become free agents in the workforce, needing such skills to compete for prevailing wages with no implicit or explicit guarantee of job security. The strongest protection workers now have is education and training. Stone also notes that those hurt the most by this instability are blue collar and untrained workers2. While the lack of security is tumultuous in itself, Stone argues that the current labor structure does not have answers for many of issues that the changing economy present.
Using Stone's method of chronicling historical changes in the employer-labor relationship, the trend towards a more flexible and boundaryless workforces has worked to improve opportunities for women and minorities. ...
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