Document Type



Albany Law Review




This Article provides an historically-rooted analysis of a recent spate of civil RICO complaints arising from labor union organizing campaigns. The Article historicizes contemporary civil RICO suits against labor unions by analogizing to nineteenth century conspiracy prosecutions of unions. In tracing this history of organized labor’s social standing, the Article addresses the cultural framing of the union and its place in political and cultural discourse over the past century. The civil RICO complaints have received limited scholarly attention mainly focusing on issues of federal preemption; this Article argues for a broad reading of the cases as a way to understand the evolving political and legal standing of organized labor in the United States, ultimately suggesting that the cases should provide the impetus for legislative action and broader labor law reform.