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Wagner act of 1935

Describe about the Labour Legislation Law of 20th Century.

The 20th century is considered as the ‘progressive era” and much legislation came into force as membership of union grew to 6% of the labour force, so it was employers, employees and trade union that played significant part  (Sefcovic, & Condit, 2001). There were many legislation enacted in this century and two of them namely Wagner act of 1935 and Taft –Hartley act of 1947 used to answer the below questions.

The Wagner act 1935 is the significant labour law of 20th century related with the labour in the workplace and it is also known as National Labour relation act  (NLRA) of 1935 and give new dimension to the employer-employee relation and recognized the role of labour union (Sefcovic, & Condit, 2001). It provided the facility of collective bargaining and accepted that labour union is not the violation of the liberty of contract of an employee.

This is another important labour related with the 20th century and it is also known as the labour management relations act (LMRA) of 1947. This act focuses on four restrictions in the activities of trade union and they are curtailing the unfair practices of labour by the trade union. The second restriction is documenting the rights of employees that represent the members of union (Foley, 1947). The third restriction is related with documenting the rights of employers representing the company. The last restriction is related with the empowering the government to call off strikes during the emergency and it is based on the attitudes towards labour post world war II.

The rise of trade union helped the labour force by working for their rights in the workplace and it resulted in many strikes owing to labour disputes. In this regard government played the role of mediator intervening in the labour disputes and end the strike. During this period most of the existing legislation acted as a weapon for the employer (Cortner, 1980). Thus it was evident that the government favoured the employers and used pressure techniques to crush the strikes of labour under the guidance of trade union. After 1890 it was stated by the court that unions are illegal and enacted antitrust law (Cortner, 1980). This was not favouring the labour and trade union as it promoted the concept of individual bargaining, The fight for collective bargaining and the rights of employees was the major circumstances that led to the passing of the legislation Wagner act of 1935.

Taft –Hartley act of 1947

The Wagner act of 1935 helped in protecting the rights of union and it lead to increased confidence and the organized labour started developing complacent. Many members become part of trade union and increased the political power of the system. This new right to workers lead to an escalation of conflict between classes during the great depression. In addition it resulted in regular strike, protest and boycotting businesses whenever disputes aroused. With a view to curtail the power of the trade union it is necessary have a new law and the circumstances that led to the passing of the legislation called Taft –Hartley act of 1947 (Foley, 1947).

In context to the labour there are three parties who get directly affected by the legislation and they are employees, trade union and employers. Employees are an integral part of the Wagner act of 1935 and it provided the employees the right to unionization in the workplace, the right to hold strike in case the dispute is not resolved by the company and negotiate with the company about the work environment and condition, compensation and wages and other benefits related with work (Plotke, 1989). Thus it can be stated that Wagner act of 1935 promoted the employee communication in the workplace that was not given due importance earlier as all the legislation was in favour of the employer. On the other hand Taft –Hartley act of 1947 helps in protecting the rights of employees against the union they are part of. For example the closed shops that create any pressure on employees to become a member of union is identified as the violation of the right of the individual with respect to freedom of association on the employees of the organization. It also promotes the right to work that enables the employees an option of free will and not as a condition of employment (Gold, 2012). This act enable employees to file petition to make the Union invalid or decertify with respect to the any security provision of the collective bargaining contract undertaken presently. 

Both Wagner act of 1935 and Taft –Hartley act of 1947 had significant affect on the trade union and they are indirectly proportional to each other. The affect of Wagner act of 1935 on the trade union was positive as it gave them recognition and made them legal. Unlike the earlier cases where the court considered the activities of the trade union as the violation of the liberty of contract of the employee, the Wagner act of 1935 supported the activities (Plotke, 1989). It promoted the concept of collective bargaining and unionizing and gave authorization to the trade union to execute strenuous action in this regard. On the other hand the affect of Taft –Hartley act of 1947 is aimed at restricting the misuse of power provided by the earlier act. This act restrained the power of the trade union curbing the employees from acting on their assured rights of bargaining as it is illegal. The act also disapproved any kind of discrimination against employees while providing membership. The Taft –Hartley act of 1947 made it mandatory the trade union to execute the activity of bargain in good faith and not as wildcat strikes that are outlawed with the employers (Gold, 2012). Finally the act considered featherbedding on the part of the trade union as illegal. Featherbedding is process whereby the trade union promotes the individual performing no work to get paid by the employers.

Major circumstances that led to the passing of the legislation

The employers were affected by the legislation namely Wagner act of 1935 and Taft –Hartley act of 1947. The effect of Wagner act of 1935 is not favourable for the employer as the enactment of this legislation made the government go against the employers who received the total support of the government earlier in crushing the strike called by the employees and trade union (Millis, & Brown, 1950). In fact it supported the activities of unionization and collective bargaining that impacted the employers negatively. On the other hand the Taft –Hartley act of 1947 helped to curtail the rights provided by Wagner act of 1935 to the employees and trade union and promoted the deliverance of anti union communication. This act confirmed the ruling of the Supreme Court whereby expressing opinion against the union by the employer as their constitutional right. This tight to employer is based on the condition that it does not impact the employment as penalty against the activities of union nor providing alternative to unionization by providing incentives to employees. It also provide right to employer to petition filing intimating the board to identify if majority of employees are part of the trade union. For example it can be claimed by the employers that plant closing of the company is related with the process of unionization but at same time cannot state that a specific plant will result closure if the trade union is voted.

The application of Wagner act of 1935 also known as National Labour relation (NLRA) act of 1935 was opposed at the time of introduction back then by the employers stating it as radical piece of law and faced by universal opposition by the employers. Some employers stated that the government is going against the commerce clause. However in 1937 in the case of national labour relation v/s Jones & Laughlin steel corp it was stated by the Supreme Court that the National Labour relation act of 1935 and application were valid constitutionally (Olverson, J. 1947). Even today the charges of employees with respect to unfair practice against labour and take action against the employer with regard to such charges; the NLRA is major legal framework to deal with the case.

On the other hand Taft –Hartley act of 1947 also known as the labour management relations act (LMRA) of 1947  was enacted to curb the practice of unfair practices owing to the power provide by the earlier act trade union (Hartley, & Taft, 1947). In the modern time labour management relations act (LMRA) more pertinent as the today employer treat the employee as the internal customers of the company and trade union as essential stakeholder and cultivate a positive relation with both the stakeholder.

Conclusion

It can be concluded that both NLRB and LMRA impacted labour law in the 20th century by introducing unionization, collective bargaining, unfair practice on the part of trade union, listing the rights of the employer and employee (Plotke, 1989). NLRA provided rights to trade to communicate with employer while LMRA provided rights to curtail the unfair strikes. Both the legislation is equally relevant today.

References

Cortner, R. (1980). The Wagner act cases. Ann Arbor, Mich.: University Microfilms International.

Foley, J. (1947). Union Unfair Labor Practices under the Taft-Hartley Act. Virginia Law Review, 33(6), 697. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1068990

Gold, S. (2012). The Taft-Hartley Act. New York: Marshall Cavendish Benchmark.

Hartley, F. & Taft, R. (1947). Labor-management relations act, 1947. [Washington: U. S. Govt. Print. Off.

Millis, H. & Brown, E. (1950). From the Wagner act to Taft-Hartley. [Chicago]: University of Chicago Press.

Olverson, J. (1947). Collective Bargaining and the Taft-Hartley Labor Act. Virginia Law Review, 33(5), 549. https://dx.doi.org/10.2307/1068649

Plotke, D. (1989). The Wagner Act, Again: Politics and Labor, 1935–37. Stud. In Am. Pol. Dev., 3, 104. https://dx.doi.org/10.1017/s0898588x00000602

Sefcovic, E. & Condit, C. (2001). Narrative and social change: A case study of the Wagner act of 1935.Communication Studies, 52(4), 284-301. https://dx.doi.org/10.1080/10510970109388565

SILVERBERG, L. (1945). The Wagner Act: after ten years. Edited by Louis G. Silverberg. [By various authors.]. Pp. iv. 126. Bureau of National Affairs: Washington.

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