Labor Laws That Have Shaped the Present Union Management Relationships

Various laws, legislations, have continued to markedly characterize the rights that labor unions and managements enjoy. Through the laws, the government has continued to play significant roles in influencing the labor history’s course (Cochran, 1979). Each of the laws has commonly been seen as favoring either managements or labor unions. For instance, the 1935’s Wagner Act (National Labor Relations Act) is seen as having expanded unions’ rights and led to their growth. The 1947’s Taft-Hartley Act (Labor Management Relations Act) is seen as having expanded managements’ rights and led to their unions’ decline. Presently, unions are fighting for what is christened card-check voting. The voting is likely to motivate union membership’s rebirth (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011). This paper explores the various laws that have markedly characterized the rights that labor unions and managements enjoy over the years. The laws are the 1932’s Anti-Injunction Bill (Norris-LaGuardia Act), the Wagner Act as well as the Taft-Hartley Act.

Description of the Labor Laws and Roles They Played In Forming Present Union-Management Relationships

Norris-LaGuardia Act

The principal sponsors of the Anti-Injunction Bill were republicans, George Norris and La Guardia Fiorello. The bill was enacted in 1932. The law prohibited yellow-dog form of contracts by prohibiting courts from granting injunction orders against labor disputes that were peaceful. As well, the act granted employees the right to join any union they sought to join devoid of employers’ interference. That means that the law allowed unions to grow their membership without interference by managements (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011).

Based on the law, managements were barred from formulating contracts requiring prospective employees to agree to seek union membership as a pre-employment condition. The law decreed that such contracts could not be enforced in courts, especially the federal ones (Cochran, 1979). As well, the law bars managements from stopping nonviolent publication and spread of information about employment terms, as well as conditions, by parties to ongoing labor disputes.

Based on the law, managements cannot stop nonviolent publication and spread of the information even when it happens within own, private spaces or properties (Cochran, 1979). The Anti-Injunction Bill imposes stringent procedural limitations on courts with regard to their issuance of the orders against unions’ economic actions against managements. Such limitations make the relationships between the parties highly even-handed.

Wagner Act

One of the components of President Roosevelt’s New Deal was a range of legislations that bolstered the position of unions in their recurrent fights, or struggles, with company managements. The Wagner Act, which was enacted in 1935, was the most critical of the legislations. It was sponsored by Robert Wagner in the senate. Wagner supported unions strongly. He asserted that an ideal management was always persuaded by republican ideals in its actions and relationships, especially with unions (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011). As noted earlier, the legislation expanded unions’ rights and led to their growth.

Most significantly, the legislation decreed that it was the right of every legal union to organize, as well as mobilize, workers devoid of intimidation and harassment from managements or employers. The legislation was the legal foundation of the NLRB (National Labor Relations Board), which was charged with making certain that all elections aimed at establishing the legality of given unions to represent particular workers were just. As well, the NLRB was charged with overseeing the formulation of CBAs (Collective Bargaining Agreements) between representatives of given unions on one hand and managements of private, unionized companies on the other (Faragher, Buhle, Czitrom & Armitage, 2006). The act guarantees employees and their unions the right to bargain jointly, or cooperatively, with managements.

The NLRB defines the processes through which unions gain the right to represent the employees of given companies in CBA deliberations. One of the processes is card-check, or voluntary recognition. A union seeking the right to represent given employees affords their employer with cards from over 50% of them authorizing it to represent them. When the employer gets the cards, he or she may in own accord accept them as evidence that the employees are desirous of having the union serve as their CBA representative. Thereafter, the NLRB endorses the union as the employees’ CBA representative (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011). The other process is an election via secret balloting. Employees are engaged in a NLRB-supervised election to express their desire to have a particular union serve as their CBA representative.

Considerably, the legislation brought civil rights into the purview of labor, as well as union, rights. It bound managements to act within its provision rather than acting arbitrarily when engaging unions. It allowed employees to boycott workplace assignments, strike, as well as picket, against management. As well, it banned the associations that were christened company unions. Such unions were essentially worker organizations that employers sponsored. In addition, the legislation banned the intimidation and blacklisting of employees by managements. It banned managements from hiring spies to work against employees’ interests. It bound managements to negotiating contracts with suitably selected unions (Cochran, 1979).

Taft-Hartley Act

            In mid-1947, Fred Hartley along with Robert Taft sponsored the Taft-Hartley Act, which President Truman vetoed in the same year. Even then, the presidential veto was overridden by the senate and the House of Representatives, thus becoming a federal law. The legislation has strikingly characterized the rights of labor unions along with managements over the years. As well, it has considerably shaped how managements relate with unions. Principally, the law limits unions’ powers and activities. Union leaders viewed it as slave-labor decree. Even then, the president asserted that it intruded on the free speech right of all persons dangerously. The president was afraid that the law would compromise essential democratic principles. Nonetheless, the president went ahead to employ it severally when he was on office. The legislation effected various amendments in the Wagner Act (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011).

The Taft-Hartley law was enacted as a reaction to the then dramatic growth of the union movement. To a certain extent, it was also enacted in response to the then heightening Cold War antagonisms. Following the Second World War, there was an upsurge of labor. Businesses persuaded legislators to check the upsurge legislatively according to Faragher, Buhle, Czitrom and Armitage (2006). There were many strikes by employees across the US after the war, causing many businesses then unprecedented losses. The law was enacted to demobilize the movement through the imposition of restrictions on the ability of unions to call for lawful strikes. As well, the law was enacted to demobilize the movement through the prohibition of radical workers and other individuals from ascending to the leadership of unions.

Evidently, the law had varied impacts on how managements related with unions and the rights of both the parties. First, the law took away the right of unions to conduct jurisdictional strikes, through which they sought to assign specific work or roles to their members, employees. The union banned common situs picketing along with secondary boycotts as well (Cochran, 1979). Second, the law barred unions along with managements from supporting federal electoral processes, independently and collaboratively. Owing to the law, managements and unions could not collaborate in advancing the electoral interests of any given individual or body.

Third, the law took away the right of unions to run closed shops. Such shops required managements to only employ unionized individuals. Notably, the law did not ban union shops, which require that those recruited by management should become members of unions within specified periods, in accordance with the CBA that the employees are part to. Fourth, amendments made to the law allowed authorized states to ban union shops and related clauses within own jurisdictions. Fifth, amendments made to the law obligated managements along with unions to offer each other notices of at least 60 days prior to undertaking any economic actions, including strikes, while pursuing new CBAs (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011).

Sixth, amendments made to the law automatically kept out supervisors from its coverage. The amendments allowed managements to fire supervisors for engaging in the activities of unions. As well, the amendments allowed managements to fire supervisors for not supporting the managements’ cause and stances. Even then, the amendments did not remove professional workers from the law’s coverage. Rather, the amendments allowed for particular processes for the inclusion of the workers into the same unions as workers who were non-professional (Cochran, 1979). Seventh, the Taft-Hartley law allowed managements the right to give anti-union communications at their workstations.

Why the Three Laws are Important

Much of the contemporary labor history is explained or described rather plainly by the Taft-Hartley Act, the Anti-Injunction Bill as well as the Wagner Act. The three laws have considerably determined many recent labor dispute outcomes. Given that the struggle for power between managements and unions has been fought quite hard, various advantages appear to assist either of the parties at different times (Forbath, 1991; Goldman, Corrada & Goldman, 2011). The laws, especially the Taft-Hartley Act, have helped equalize the parties’ bargaining-related advantages. Even then, it is considerable that its sponsors sought to level the bargaining-related field for both parties rather than reintroducing the 19th century’s ant-union legislative climate. Evidently, the three laws stand as the principal pillars defining the past of the contemporary labor movement.

Using the laws, the government referees the relationships and struggles between managements and labor. Notably, managements and labor are almost always fighting for the expansion of own rights and powers (Cochran, 1979). Legislation and court determinations shape the struggles and are seen as granting particular advantages to either of the parties at different times. Presently, unions are fighting for a novel labor legislation to further insure their right to employee organization. Unions have the feeling that managements are keen on interfering with the right by sending away those sympathizing with unions, and threatening to shut unionized companies down. Unions as well have the feeling that the managements are not keen on bargaining in good faith following the unionization of their workers.

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