19. What is the “Taft-Hartley Act”?
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 is a group of amendments to the NLRA. Since the passage of these amendments, the NLRA is commonly known as the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA). Though the name is modified, the provisions of the NLRA make up the core of the LMRA, which is still administered by the NLRB. The major additions of the Taft-Hartley Act include:
• Right to Work Laws – Perhaps most notable addition of the Taft Hartley Act was Section 14(b). This provision allows states to pass laws prohibiting mandatory membership in a union or mandatory union dues for an employee. These state laws are known as “right-to-work” laws. These statutes are a huge detriment to unions, which depend on employee dues. Approximately 25 states have passed these types of laws.
• Unfair Discharge – The Taft-Hartley Act added Section 8(b) to prohibit additional unfair labor practices by employers and employees. Section 8(b)(2) prohibited union employees from causing an employee to be fired for any union-related reason.
• Employer Protections – Many of the provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act offer protections to employers, as well as employees. Notably, Section 8(b)(7) prohibits employees of one company from picketing on behalf of the employees of another company (known as a “secondary boycott”). Another example is Section 301, which recognizes a collective bargaining agreement as a valid contract. Also, employers may sue a unionized group for failure to comply with the terms of a previously executed agreement. So, if an agreement contains provisions prescribing a procedure for dealing with disputes (such as an arbitration clause) or strikes in violation of a no-strike clause, the employer may seek an injunction against the strike and recover any monetary damages suffered as a result.
• Discussion: Do you notice a different tone and purpose behind the Taft-Hartley amendments in comparison to the objectives of the NLRA? Why do you think the Federal Government took these steps to curtail the protections granted organized labor in existing law?
• Practice Question: State A is concerned that union activity is likely to cause large corporations that resent union activity to locate in other states. State A passes a “right-to-work” law that prohibits unions from mandating all corporate employees pay union dues. ABC Corp is located in State A and has an active union. ABC is concerned that the union is unduly pressuring employees to join the union, pay union dues, and are threatening negative actions if the employee fails to comply. What are the ABC and employee rights in this situation?