Michael Oswalt

Michael Oswalt

Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development, Professor of Law


 Room 3255

Michael Oswalt

  • Biography

    Michael Oswalt joined Wayne State in 2022 and serves as Associate Dean for Research and Faculty Development. He primarily teaches labor and employment law, and his writing focuses on how laws structure workplace relationships and collective advocacy. Michael’s current research explores the law and practices surrounding pay secrecy rules and will appear in the Indiana Law Journal. He is also a co-author of two labor law casebooks.

    Before joining Wayne State, Michael was a faculty member at Northern Illinois University College of Law and served as the Interim Director of the Martin H. Malin Institute for Law and the Workplace at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law from 2021-2022. He worked in the Office of the General Counsel at the Service Employees International Union from 2009 to 2013.

    Michael graduated from Haverford College and has degrees in law and theology from Duke University. After law school, he clerked for the Honorable Sonia Sotomayor on the United States Second Circuit Court of Appeals.

  • Degrees and Certifications

    J.D., Duke Law School
    M.T.S., Duke Divinity School
    B.A., Haverford College

  • Courses Taught

    Labor Law, Labor Law and Practice, Employment Law, Torts, Advanced Topics in Work Law

  • Selected publications

    Journal Articles

    • Power and Pay Secrecy, 99 Indiana Law J. _ (forthcoming 2024) (with Jake Rosenfeld and Patrick Denice).
    • Liminal Labor Law, 110 Cal. L. Rev. 1855 (2022).
    • Short Strikes, 95 Chicago-Kent L. Rev. 67 (2020) (symposium article).
    • Alt-Labor Law: Symposium Introduction, 95 Chicago-Kent L. Rev. 3 (2020) (symposium introduction, with César Rosado Marzán).
    • Alt-Bargaining, 82 L. & Contemporary Probs. 89 (2019) (symposium article).
    • The Content of Coercion, 52 U.C. Davis L. Rev. 1585 (2019).
    • Organizing the State: The ‘New Labor Law’ Seen From the Bottom-Up, 39 Berkeley J. of Emp. & Lab. L. 415 (2018) (with César Rosado Marzán).
    • The Right to Improvise in Low Wage Work, 38 Cardozo L. Rev. 959 (2017).
    • Improvisational Unionism, 104 Cal. L. Rev. 597 (2016).
    • Law and the Questions and Answers of Workplace Mobilization, 40 N.Y.U Review of Law and Social Change Harbinger 129 (2013) (response essay).
    • Automatic Elections, 4 U.C. Irvine L. Rev. 801 (2014) (symposium article).
    • Steeple Solidarity: Mainline Church Renewal and the Union Corporate Campaign, 50 J. of Catholic Legal Studies 227 (2011) (symposium article).
    • Preemption and Civic Democracy in the Battle Over Wal-Mart, 92 Minn. L. Rev. 1502 (2008) (symposium article, with Catherine L. Fisk).
    • The Grand Bargain: Revitalizing Labor Through NLRA Reform and Radical Workplace Relations, 57 Duke L. J. 691 (2007) (student note).

     Other Writings

    • The law vs. salary secrecy, Business Insider (May 25, 2023).
    • Status as Sword, Law and Political Economy Blog (Jul. 20, 2022).
    • The Doomed Constitutional Case Against Exclusive Representation, ACS Issue Brief (June 14, 2021).
    • Protesting for Social Justice at Work, Rockford Register Star (Sept. 19, 2020).
    • Does Scabby the Rat Cause Fear—Or Is The NLRB Inflating the Balloon’s Power? Chicago Tribune (Aug. 16, 2019)
    • Searching for the “New Labor Law,” The Regulatory Review (May 8, 2018) (with César Rosado-Marzán). 
    • When "Restructuring" Weakens Enforcement, OnLabor (April 10, 2018) (with César Rosado-Marzán).
    • A Bad McSettlement, OnLabor (Jan. 29, 2018).
    • My Paternity Leave Was Not Gratuitous, HuffPost (June 14, 2017).
    • Trump's Big Mistake at the Department of Labor, Rockford Register Star (Jan. 14, 2017).
    • Bust Out without Breaking Up, 25 New Labor Forum 21 (Winter 2016).
    • Improvisation at Work: A Labor Day Reflection, HuffPost (Sept. 5, 2016).
    • When Courts Stop Strikes Before They Start: Why Workers and the Public Lose, HuffPost (Feb. 13, 2014).
    • Labor’s New Strike-First Strategy, Chicago Sun Times (Sept. 10, 2013).
  • Publications and Conference Papers
    • Labor Law in the Contemporary Workplace, West Academic Publishing (Dau-Schmidt, Corrada, Cameron, Rosado Marzán, Oswalt, & Gely, 4th Ed., 2023).
    • Public Sector Employment: Cases and Materials, West Academic Publishing (Malin, Hodges, Slater, Hirsch, Oswalt, & Lofaso, 4th Ed., 2022).
    • The Power of Place in The Cambridge Handbook of U.S. Labor Law for the Twenty-First
    • Century (Bales & Garden, eds., Cambridge University Press 2020).
  • Accomplishments
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, The Content of Coercion, was cited by the National Labor Relations Board in Sunbelt Rentals, Inc., 374 N.L.R.B. No. 24 (2022).
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, Liminal Labor Law, was reviewed in JOTWELL, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) by Joseph Slater (February 16, 2022).
    • Michael Oswalt co-organized a day long symposium sponsored by the Chicago-Kent Law Review, Alt-Labor Law: The State of the Law of the New Labor Movement (Nov. 14, 2019).
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, The Content of Coercion, was reviewed in JOTWELL, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) by Martin Malin (July 22, 2019).
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, The Right to Improvise in Low Wage Work, was reviewed in JOTWELL, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) by Anne Marie Lofaso (July 5, 2018).
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, Improvisational Unionism, was reviewed in JOTWELL, The Journal of Things We Like (Lots) by Catherine Fisk (November 1, 2016).
    • Michael Oswalt’s article, Preemption and Civic Democracy in the Battle Over Wal-Mart, was cited by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals in Golden Gate Restaurant Ass’n v. San Francisco, 546 F.3d 639 (9th Cir. 2008) (with Catherine L. Fisk).
  • Courses taught by Michael Oswalt

    Winter Term 2024 (future)

    Fall Term 2023 (current)

    Winter Term 2023

    Fall Term 2022

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