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Some Effects
of the
Taft-Hartley Act




The Institute of Labor and Industrial Relations was established in
1946 to "inquire faithfully, honestly, and impartially into labor-
management problems of all types, and secure the facts which will
lay the foundation for future progress in the whole field of labor

The Institute seeks to serve all the people of Illinois by promot-
ing general understanding of our social and economic problems, as
well as by providing specific services to groups directly concerned
with labor and industrial relations.

The Bulletin series is designed to implement these aims by
periodically presenting information and ideas on subjects of inter-
est to persons active in the field of labor and industrial relations.
While no effort is made to treat the topics exhaustively, an attempt
is made to answer the main questions raised about the subjects
under discussion. The presentation is non-technical for general and
popular use.

Additional copies of this Bulletin and others listed on the last
page are available for distribution.

W. Ellison Chalmers Milton Derber

Acting Director Coordinator of Research

Dorothy Dow ell




Volume 47; Number 18; October, 1949. Published seven times each month by the University
of Illinois. Entered as second-class matter December 11, 1912, at the post office at Urbana,
Illinois, under the Act of August 24, 1912. Office of Publication, 358 Administration
Building, Urbana, Illinois.




By Dale E. Good


Act as it is popularly known, has been law for two years. Since its
passage, provisions of the Act and their effect have been debated
pro and con by industrial, labor, and other interested groups.

What has been the experience of labor and management groups
under the new law ? What effect has the Act had on our national
economy? Has it had any significant impact on labor-management
relations? Have all its provisions been used?

Answers to some of these questions have required time to de-
velop. Although the Act was passed in June, 1947, most provisions
did not become effective until August of that year, and some did not
apply until August, 1948. The real meanings of many of the pro-
visions, therefore, were not clear until ruled upon by the National
Labor Relations Board. In some instances, further clarification by
the courts is needed. By January, 1949, only two cases had been
decided by the Supreme Court.

Previous bulletins published by the Institute of Labor and In-
dustrial Relations have described the main provisions of the Taft-
Hartley Act, and interpretations by the Board and the courts since
its passage. This bulletin will consider the effect of the Act upon
strikes, work-stoppages affecting the public health and welfare,
union and management conduct and practices, labor-management
contracts, and the National Labor Relations Board.


It is not possible to conclude from statistics whether the Act
has had any appreciable effect upon the number or duration of
strikes. A comparison of the number of strikes and the amount
of lost working time indicates that the years 1947 and 1948 were
remarkably alike. In 1947, idleness due to work stoppages accounted
for the loss of 34,559,000 man-days. In 1948, labor-management
disputes resulted in approximately 34,000,000 man-days of direct
idleness. 1 During the period 1935 to 1940, yearly loss of time
as a result of work stoppages was considerably lower. The greatesl

strike idleness during those years was in 1937, with a loss of
28,400, 000 man-days. Thus far the percentage of estimated work-
ing time lost since the passage of the Act is more than one-third
greater than the average for the period 1935 to 1940. It is difficult,
however, if not impossible, to determine to what extent these
strikes were caused by the issues in the Taft-Hartley Act.

Strikes in 1947

In March, 1947, before passage of the Act, there was a general
downward trend in time lost because of work stoppages. This trend
continued through the remainder of the year until by December,
industrial idleness resulting from labor-management disputes had
declined to a postwar low. A substantial portion of time lost due to
work stoppages during 1947, however, resulted from three major
disputes: the nation-wide telephone strike in April and May, the
more prolonged east coast shipyards' strike from June to December,
and the bituminous coal mining stoppage in late June.

Wages were the chief cause of most work stoppages in 1947,
as in 1946. Consequently, of the Act's provisions only the pro-
cedural ones, the sixty-day waiting period, and the national emer-
gency provision applied.

Issues arising out of the Taft-Hartley Act, however, were di-
rectly involved in some disputes during 1947. The short stoppage
of about 235,000 bituminous coal miners was allegedly a protest
against passage of the Act. A strike in Detroit involving 7,000 auto
parts employees developed following disagreement between the
Murray Corporation of America and the United Auto Workers
(CIO) over including in their contract a clause which would protect
the union from damage suits in the event of wildcat strikes. Several
smaller controversies between the International Typographical
Union (AFL) and various printing concerns climaxed in an ex-
tended work stoppage beginning in November when typographers
in five Chicago newspaper plants went on strike. Although wages
were involved, other important issues in this latter controversy were
working conditions and the closed shop."

Strikes in 1948

The downward trend in work stoppages was reversed during
1948. Beginning in January, an upward trend in time lost because
of work stoppages became evident. This trend extended through-
out the first half of the year. During the first week of April more
than half a million workers were on strike. The range of businesses
affected was unusually wide — from the stock market to the stock-

Again, wages were the chief issue. But issues arising either
directly or indirectly from the Taft-Hartley Act continued to be
present in some disputes.

The Act's non-Communist affidavit requirement was a major
issue in a three-month strike of 1,000 employees, members of the
United Public Workers (CIO), in cafeterias of about forty govern-
ment buildings in Washington, D.C. A major question involved
was whether management was required to bargain with a union
whose officers had not bled the non-Communist affidavits required
by the Act.

A strike of United Mine Workers (Ind) involving the "captive
coal mines" was called during Jul}- because of disagreement be-
tween the union and management over a union shop provision in
the 1948 contract. Management representatives contended that this
provision violated the Taft-Hartley Act. However, they offered to
accept the union shop provision if employees voted for it as pro-
vided under the Act. The vote, under the direction of the NLRB,
was prevented when officers of the United Mine Workers refused
to sign the non-Communist affidavit. A nine-day strike was termi-
nated when an agreement incorporating the union shop provision
was reached during a court hearing on a petition filed by the general
counsel of the Board for an injunction to restrain the union. Both
sides agreed that the union shop provisions would be modified it
court rulings required it.

Approximately 2H,()()() west coast dock workers and seagoing-
personnel in September began a three-month strike upon termi-
nation of an eighty-day anti-strike injunction issued under the
national emergency provision of the Act. Two of the three principal
issues in the dispute — the union hiring hall and the signing of non-
Communist affidavits — involved sections of the Act.

Longshoremen on the east coast ports went on strike in Novem-
ber, after termination of an eighty-day injunction. Bituminous coal
miners stopped work in March, returning to work when an agree-
ment was reached about a month later. A strike in the meat packing
industry began in March and ended in May.

No other industry-wide strikes began during the latter part of
1948. Settling of the disputes involving the west coast maritime
workers, the longshoremen on the east coast, and the California
oil refinery employees left no major strikes in existence by De-
cember. The strike of Chicago printers continued through 1948,
with further litigation occurring.


An important section of the Taft-Hartley Act includes pro-
visions for dealing with nation-wide stoppages which may affect
the health and welfare of the public. This is the so-called national
emergency provision. There are six steps in the emergency pro-
cedure :

1. The President, if he is of the opinion that an actual or
threatened strike would imperil the national health or safety,
"may appoint a board of inquiry to inquire into the issues involved."

2. Upon receiving a report from the board of inquiry, the
President may direct the Attorney General to seek an injunction
against the strike.

3. The court, if it finds that the actual or threatened strike
falls within the specifications set up in the law, may issue an order
enjoining the strike or its continuation.

4. If agreement is not reached at the end of sixty days, the
board of inquiry reports the position of the parties to the President.

5. During the succeeding fifteen days the NLRB conducts a
poll of employees on acceptance or rejection of the employer's last
offer, and within five days thereafter certifies the results to the
Attorney General.

6. The Attorney General asks the court to discharge the in-
junction. The President then submits with or without recommenda-
tions, as he may see fit, a record of the entire proceeding to Con-
gress. The process is to be completed in eighty days; hence, the

popular term, "eighty-day injunction," when referring to the

national emergency procedure.

Use of Emergency Procedures

Some of these procedures were used seven times by January 1,
1949. In four instances, re] torts of the various boards of inquiry
were followed by resort to federal injunction procedures. In two
cases, strikes had begun when the emergency procedures were in-
voked, and in two cases, strikes resulted after the procedures of the
law were exhausted. In two other cases, votes on the employers'
last offers were taken. In another, involving the longshoremen and
the stevedores on the Pacific coast, the NLRB was unable to take
a vote on the employer's last offer, because union members refused
to cast ballots.

The national emergency provisions of the Act were invoked for
the first time in March, 1948. The President appointed boards of
inquiry to investigate three disputes — atomic energy, coal mining,
and meat packing.

The atomic energy dispute involved the AFL Atomic Trades
Council and the Carbide and Carbon Chemical Corporation, a pri-
vate concern operating under the overall supervision of the Atomic
Energy Commission. Issues involved in the dispute were wage ad-
justments and retention of a sick-leave plan. A strike was averted
when agreement was reached shortly after the eighty-day injunc-
tion ended. In this case, every step in the national emergency pro-
cedure was completed, including the report by the President to Con-
gress. The President recommended developing special means to
handle disputes in the atomic energy industry and proposed setting
up a commission to study the problem.

' A work stoppage developed in the bituminous coal industry in
March as a result of failure between labor and management to
agree on a pension plan. By the middle of the month, almost the
entire industry was idle. On April 13, on order from the President,
the Attorney General obtained a temporary injunction from the
U. S. District Court for the District of Columbia directing the
union to order the miners to return to the pits and further ordering
both parties to resume collective bargaining to settle the disptite.

After further court action, the dispute was settled and agreement
on the pension plan was reached.

The President appointed a board of inquiry to report on another
case involving the United Mine Workers of America (Ind) and
the bituminous coal mine operators in dispute over wages and em-
ployment. The parties agreed to a contract, however, before hear-
ings were held.

A strike situation in the meat packing industry had already de-
veloped when the President took the first step under the emergency
provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act and appointed a board of in-
quiry. In this case, however, the government took no further ac-
tion. The strike, which began in March, continued for sixty-
seven days before settlement was reached.

Another case, in which no injunction was issued, involved the
Telephone Workers Union (CIO) and the American Telephone
and Telegraph Company. A board of inquiry had begun hearings
when the parties agreed on a contract.

In two cases involving the shipping industry, eightv-dav in-
junctions were issued. The first involved members of six unions —
four CIO, one AFL, and one independent — and shippers on the
Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf ports, and on the Great Lakes. A strike
was in progress on the Great Lakes threatening to spread to ocean-
going traffic when the President directed the Attorney General to
seek an injunction. Federal courts in Xew York, Cleveland, San
Francisco, and in other areas, promptly issued temporary injunc-
tions, followed by eighty-day injunctions. One extended work stop-
page developed out of this complicated situation. It involved the
International Longshoremen's Union (CIO) and the west coast

The other case involved the Atlantic coast stevedoring em-
ployers and the International Longshoremen's Association (AFL).
Wages and adjustment of overtime rates were the principal issues
in dispute. Union members went on strike November 10, 1948,
the termination date of the eighty-day injunction. Settlement was
reached seventeen days later.

In both east and west coast disputes, work stoppages resulted
only after the emergency provisions of the Act were exhausted. In
elections conducted by the NLRB on the emplover's last offer in

the national emergency disputes, votes by employees were "over-
whelmingly for rejection. . . ." 3


An examination of union constitutions is one method ot de-
termining some of the effects of the Taft-Hartley Act. Changes in
these constitutions since passage of the Act reflect the influence of
certain provisions on union conduct and practices.

Some unions have taken action to avoid responsibility for dam-
age suits in the event of wildcat strikes. The United Auto Workers
(CIO), for example, has amended its constitution to prohibit call-
ing a strike unless authority has been granted by the international
executive board or the president of the international union.

Other changes reflect the influence of the checkoff and non-
Communist affidavit provisions of the Act. The International
Fishermen and Allied Workers Union (CIO) recently amended its
constitution so that all forms of union membership payments may
be included in the checkoff without violating the Taft-Hartley Act,
which restricts checkoff deductions to "payment of membership
dues." The amendment designates all forms of payments as "dues,"
which are permissible deductions under the Act. The Federation
of Glass, Ceramic, and Silica Sand Workers (CIO) has likewise
attempted to solve the checkoff problem by adopting a uniform
system of dues payments. Under this arrangement, where a check-
off agreement is in effect, an employee who does not authorize
the employer to make deductions for dues "shall become delinquent
and be suspended if he has not paid all dues, fines and assessments
fifteen days after each current payday."

Non-Communist Affidavits

The effect of the non-Communist affidavit provision upon in-
ternal union affairs is difficult to determine. Most unions have
complied with the Act's filing requirements, despite widespread ob-
jection to the provision.

In some instances, labor's own efforts to reduce Communist
influence preceded legislative action. A vigorous purge has been
underway for some time within the United Auto Workers (CIO)

and the National Maritime Union (CIO), with warm encourage-
ment from national officers of the CIO.

Unions whose officers have refused to file the non-Communist
affidavit cannot invoke the processes of the NLRB. This puts the
non-complying unions at a disadvantage in dealing with employers
and with rival unions. The perils of non-compliance are illustrated
in a case involving a strike against Board certification. 4

Local 1250 of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store
Employes (CIO) had a contract with Oppenheim Collins and Com-
pany of New York. The contract was about to expire, and the
company refused to negotiate a new contract because officers of the
local union had not signed non-Communist affidavits ; whereupon
the union struck.

A rival AFL union launched an organizing drive among the em-
ployees and subsequently petitioned the NLRB for a bargaining
election. Attempts by local 1250 to halt the election or to get a
place on the ballot failed. The Board also refused to allow the
national union a place on the ballot on the ground that it was
merely "fronting" for local 1250. The AFL union won the election
and was duly certified by the Board. Objections to the election filed
by the local CIO union and its parent organization were overruled
by the Board. Throughout this period, the store w r as picketed by the
CIO local, and picketing continued after the AFL union had been

The company then filed charges with the Board alleging a viola-
tion of the Taft-Hartley Act's prohibition of a strike against Board
certification. The general counsel obtained a Federal Court injunc-
tion forbidding picketing and other strike activity. The strike con-
tinued and contempt proceedings were started. Under the threat of
a $20,000 fine and an additional penalty of $1,000 per day, the
CIO union discontinued the strike. Local 1250 disaffiliated from
the national union and the CIO, and is now an independent union.

Similar situations have occurred elsewhere. In some instances
the international union has taken control of non-complying locals;
in others, locals have seceded from internationals to which they had
been affiliated. This has been a two-way process, however. Some
complying locals have disaffiliated from non-complying inter-
national unions, just as some non-complying locals have had their


relationships cut off with complying internationals from which
they had received charters.

NLRB Rulings

Rulings and interpretations of the non-Communist affidavit
provision by the NLRB have developed along the following lines:

1. A non-complying union cannot petition for a representation
election and cannot be certified by the Board as the bargaining

2. In case of a representation election on the petition of another
union, a non-complying union cannot get on the ballot.

3. A non-complying union cannot file objections to any repre-
sentation election.

4. A non-complying union cannot file unfair labor practice
charges with the Board. The Board will not handle charges filed by
an individual or the international union on behalf of a non-com-
plying union.

As a result, some non-complying unions have found it difficult
to cope with unfriendly moves by rival unions and have lost mem-
bership and contracts to complying unions. Some unions have been
extremelv active in drawing membership from non-complying
unions. The UAW (CIO) has chartered locals from the United
Electrical Workers (CIO), the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers
(CIO), and the Farm Equipment Workers (CIO). The Industrial
Union of Marine and Shipbuilding Workers (CIO) has chartered
locals from the Mine, Mill, and Smelter Workers and the United
Public Workers (CIO).

Xot all non-complying unions have suffered from such activity
of rival unions. The West Coast International Longshoremen's and
Warehousemen's Union (CIO), for example, has not been appre-
ciably affected. Generally, however, unions under so-called left wing
leadership have been affected most. A wider split between leftwing
and rightwing unions has been one result of the filing requirements
of the Act.


a or '.u: lib:

Secondary Boycotts

The .Vet's ban on secondary boycott activity has far-reaching
implications for unions. The Board is empowered under the Act to
petition any U. S. district court for a temporary injunction to stop
unfair labor practices. An employer may be enjoined from con-
tinuing an unfair labor practice, but the order usually affects only a
single concern. In the case of unions, however, an injunction against
secondary boycott activity affects all locals in the union's entire
jurisdiction. For example, a court order against the International
Typographical Union directed the union to "cease and desist from,
and advise the subordinate local unions of the respondent Inter-
national Typographical Union that they will cease and desist from,
in any manner supporting, authorizing, sanctioning, recognizing,
instigating, inducing, or encouraging subordinate local unions and
members of the International Typographical Union, or any of
them, to engage in, or to continue to engage in, any strikes, slow-
downs, walkouts, or other disruptions of any kind to the business
operations of employers in the newspaper publishing industry,
which are in furtherance of, attributable to, arising out of, or
caused solely or in part by acts and conduct enjoined by the Court's
decree of March 27, 1948, and by the provisions of the decree of
the Court hereinabove." 5

As a result of the ban against secondary boycotts some unions
have discontinued practices which were previously normal pro-
cedure. For example, a typographical union local now prints ma-
terial which is sent to a city where members of another typographi-
cal union local are on strike. 6 Before the Taft-Hartley Act, the
first local probably would have refused to do the work.

Unions have been ordered by courts and the NLRB to stop
secondary boycott activity in various cases throughout the country.
A majority of the temporary injunctions issued against unions for
unfair labor practices thus far has been concerned with various
types of secondary boycotts.


Effect of the Act upon management is less easily discernible
than upon organized labor. Management has made some use of the


Act. although a go-slow approach has been urged by various em-
ployer associations and management spokesmen. One spokesman

explains management's attitude this way:

Management has grounds sufficient under the [Taft-Hartley Act] to
swamp our courts with requests for injunctions, suits for violation of con-
tract and damages, and prosecution for unfair labor practices, to appear
as a tidal wave compared to labor's portal-to-portal suits.

Why, then, do our friends, who are faced with featherbedding and
other unfair labor practices specifically forbidden by the law, not go to
court? Because they do not know their rights under the law? Hardly. 'The
reason they are not filing briefs is due not to ignorance or the desire to
play fair so much as it is prompted by the realization that, in the great
majority of cases, the outcome of a court suit will have little effect upon
management-labor relations in their own particular plant.'

Union-Management Balance

Management generally regards the Taft-Hartley Act as func-
tioning to balance the union-management relationship. A director of
industrial relations of a large firm states that the Act has affected
management in the exercise of its functions in at least eight areas:

1. Psychologically. . . . The Taft-Hartley law injected a new element
of balance into relationships with the XLRB which has resulted in a more
impartial attitude on the part of the Board officials. . . . The psychological
effect of the Taft-Hartley Act has been most apparent in collective bar-
gaining. . . . As a result, a very large proportion of agreements were con-

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Online LibraryDale Edward GoodSome effects of the Taft-Hartley act (Volume BEBR Faculty Working Paper v. 3 no. 4) → online text (page 1 of 3)