Charles J. Morris
Professor Emeritus of Law
Charles J. Morris, Emeritus Professor of Law, is an eminent authority on labor law. He began his legal career in 1948 as an associate in a prominent Dallas labor law firm, became a partner in 1952, and remained with that firm, Mullinax, Wells, Morris, & Mauzy, until 1966 when he joined the SMU law faculty as a visiting professor (after two years of adjunct teaching). He was a professor from 1968 to 1991, when he became an emeritus professor and moved to San Diego, California, where he continued actively working in his chosen field. During his eighteen years in private practice he was extensively involved in trial and appellate work in state and federal courts and before NLRB and arbitration tribunals. Some highlights of that practice: Chief counsel in two major U.S. Supreme Court cases, one that established the unlawfulness of extending exclusive recognition to a minority union and one that held, reversing prior law, that only federal courts had jurisdiction to interpret and enforce collective agreements under the Railway Labor Act. In the Texas Supreme Court he obtained review in all five cases in which he had sought writ of error or habeas corpus and was victorious in each, thereby establishing several important doctrines in Texas labor law. In a Fifth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals action he obtained reinstatement for a group of airline pilots with back-pay of approximately $1,500,000, which at the time (1967) was the largest back-pay award ever issued in a single union discrimination case. His bar association and related activity included chairmanship of the Labor Law Section of the State Bar of Texas, chairmanships of three major committees of the Labor Law Section of the American Bar Association, and chairmanships of every annual Southwestern Legal Foundation Labor Law Institute from 1962 through 1973 (thus continuing his leadership of that institute after joining the SMU law faculty).
Since joining the SMU law faculty, Professor Morris has published numerous law review articles and other writings in the field of labor law and labor arbitration. His books include the first two editions of the standard treatise on the law of the National Labor Relations Act, THE DEVELOPING LABOR LAW: THE BOARD, THE COURTS AND THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT, also AMERICAN LABOR POLICY: A CRITICAL APPRAISAL OF THE NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS ACT, and most recently THE BLUE EAGLE AT WORK: RECLAIMING DEMOCRATIC RIGHTS IN THE AMERICAN WORKPLACE. He has been and continues to be a frequent speaker, lecturer, and presenter of scholarly papers on a variety of labor law subjects. His legal representations and pro bono activity in important court and NLRB proceedings have made major contributions to the shaping of American labor law, including the NLRB’s first adoption of substantive rulemaking, application of the Weingarten rule to nonunion workplaces, and the seminal Electromation decision on employee committees. He initiated the rulemaking petition for a general notice-posting rule which the NLRB issued regarding rights and duties under the NLRA, and filed amicus briefs in the federal cases that followed that action. His recent activities have included representation of the Steelworkers Union in several NLRB actions regarding minority-union collective bargaining, all of which are based on the thesis of his book, THE BLUE EAGLE AT WORK. That issue is alive but not yet settled.
Professor Morris has presided over and written awards in over 300 labor-management arbitration cases, many of which have been published. Since 1970 he has been a member of the National Academy of Arbitrators and has served on its Board of Governors and chaired several of its committees. In 1978 he was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to the Federal Service Impasses Panel and reappointed in 1979 as a charter member of that Panel under the newly enacted Federal Service Labor-Management Relations Act, a position in held for three additional years.
Professor Morris’ areas of teaching were Labor and Employment Law, including law under the National Labor Relations Act, the Railway Labor Act, and Labor Arbitration; Administrative Law; Constitutional Law; Alternative Dispute Resolution; Evidence; and Civil Procedure. He regularly supervised an LLM labor law program that was especially attractive to many young foreign lawyers. He was a visiting professor at Monash University (Melbourne, Australia) in 1974, at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations and its School of Law from 1977 to 1979, and at the University of San Diego School of Law in 1987 and 1988.
Born August 16, 1923. Was married to the late Minnette Fineglass Morris. Four children: sons, Jeffrey, Joseph, and John and daughter Jena. Six living grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.