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Over President Harry S. Truman's veto, zthe Taft-Hartley Act—which is also called the Labor-Management Relations Act (29 U.S.C.A. § 141 et seq.)—was passed in 1947 to establish remedies for unfair labor practices committed by unions. It included amendments to the National Labor Relations Act, also known as the Wagner Act of 1935 (29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.), which were crafted to counteract the advantage that labor unions had gained under the original legislation by imposing corresponding duties on unions. Prior to the amendments, the National Labor Relations Act had proscribed unfair labor practices committed by management.
The principal changes imposed by the act encompass the following: prohibiting secondary boycotts; abolishing the closed shop but allowing the union shop to exist under conditions specified in the act; exempting supervisors from coverage under the act; requiring the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to accord equal treatment to both independent and affiliated unions; permitting the employer to file a representation petition even though only one union seeks to represent the employees; granting employees the right not only to organize and bargain collectively but also to refrain from such activities; allowing employees to file decertification petitions for elections to determine whether employees want to revoke the designation of a union as their bargaining agent; declaring certain union activities to constitute unfair labor practices; affording to employers, employees, and unions new guarantees of the right of free speech; proscribing strikes to compel an employer to discharge an employee due to his or her union affiliation, or lack of it; and providing for settlement by the NLRB of certain jurisdictional disputes.
The act also makes collective bargaining agreements enforceable in federal district court, and it provides a civil remedy for damages to private parties injured by secondary boycotts. The statute thereby marks a shift away from a federal policy encouraging unionization, which has been embodied in the Wagner Act, to a more neutral stance, which maintains the right of employees to be free from employer coercion.