HE IS THE DEAN of labor law scholars. And so, one dean
to another, Michael A. Fitts, head of Penn Law School, led the
chorus of praise for Clyde
W. Summers, Jefferson B.
Fordham Professor of Law
Emeritus, at a symposium in
“There are very few academics
who get to define a
field,” Fitts said of Summers,
who was one of the first to
take a serious look at comparative labor law. “He is the leading
labor law scholar of his generation.”
The occasion for Fitts’ remarks were the Labor Law Symposium,
a day-long examination of issues pertaining to employee
health and safety. The conference was sponsored by the Journal
of Labor and Employment Law. OSHA and the Mine Safety and
Health Act were the subjects in presentations by government officials, union leaders, and private attorneys.
Like OSHA, Summers has had an enormous impact, as
students who organized the conference reminded everyone,
attributing their interest in labor and employment law to him.
Summers is in his 60th year of full-time teaching. He helped
draft the Landrum Griffin Act, which protects and promotes
the democratic process in unions, and his influential article
advocating statutory protection against unjust dismissal led to
the Commission of Uniform State Laws’ Model Employment
Fittingly, Summers had the last word at the conference. He
faulted government for excluding small businesses from health
and safety inspections, calling it symptomatic of Washington’s
greater interest in reducing taxes than in protecting the well-being
of workers. His solution: Self-policing. Summers said there
should be a statute requiring every employer to have a safety
committee inside its plant, which would reduce the number of
inspectors needed for workplace inspections.