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Abstract

This Article argues that the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, Social Security Act of 1935, and Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 should be understood as a “workers’ constitution.” The Article tells the history of how a connected wave of social movements responded to the insecurity that wage earners faced after the Industrial Revolution and Great Depression by working with government officials to bring about federal collective bargaining rights, wage and hour legislation, and social security legislation. It argues that the statutes are tied together as a set of “small c” constitutional commitments in both their histories and theory. Each statute sought to redefine economic freedom for workers around security and sought to position worker security as essential to the constitutional accommodation of corporate capitalism. The Article also explores the interpretive implications of conceiving of a “workers’ constitution” in the current context.

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