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University of Texas School of Law




This Paper deals with a topic at the core of labor, property, and contract law: to what extent should individuals be free to enter into agreements of their choice? In many instances, the state intervenes to tell parties that they may not execute or enforce certain agreements, or that they must incorporate certain "minimum terms." A broad view of property rights would support the position that individuals are free to enter into whatever agreements suit them. A narrow view, on the other hand, is consistent with the claim that the state may require contracting parties to comply with a set of minimum terms.

This Paper aims to provide a theory of minimum terms in the employment context. I first examine the tension between minimum terms and the employment-at-will doctrine.' I argue that the common intuitive notion that the at-will rule is inconsistent with minimum terms is false, and sketch a theory of common-law minimum terms. I then consider "new labor law minimum terms," the most important of which is the right under section 7 of the National Labor Relations Act to form and to join labor unions.

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