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Summers and OSHA Share Stage at Labor Law Symposium

Summers and OSHA Share Stage at Labor Law Symposium
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Clyde W. Summers
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 February.

“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 Termination Act.

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.

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