The current labor laws applied in the US today have originated during the industrial revolution. Conflicts always arose as employers and employees sought to advance their interests in terms of better pay, better working conditions, collective bargaining, predictability of labor, and less costly workforce. Although the employees were barred from joining labor unions in the past, further amendments outlawed such laws by legalizing the right of association. The labor laws provides for the rights of both the employers and the employees in reaching amicable agreements whenever disputes arise.
Labor laws regulate the relationship between employing entities, workers, the government, and the trade unions. Arising in tandem with industrial revolution, the labor law became a product of social struggle where workers were seeking better working conditions while on the other hand, the employers were seeking flexible, predictable, and less costly workforce (Gold, 1998). The labor laws have been amended from time to time to meet the changing demands within the workplace. Today, the Department of Labor is tasked with the mandate of enforcing and administering the labor laws that affect over 10 million and 125 million employers and workers respectively (Hepple, 2005). This paper looks at the key provisions and impact on organizations and the union-management relationship of: the Railway Labor Act, the Norris-La Guardia Act, the Wagner Act, the Taft-Hartley Act, and the Landrum-Griffin Act. [“Write my essay for me?” Get help here.]
The Railway Labor Act (RLA) governs the labor relations in airline and railroad industries. Administered by the National Mediation Board, this law aims at avoiding interruption in interstate commerce as well as preserving harmony in labor relations (Hepple, 2005). Other key provisions for this act involve unhindered right to join a labor union, orderly and prompt pay rates disputes, and independence of parties in carrying out duties under RLA. A major impact of this Act on the organization and relationship between management and the union involves collective bargaining process. Additionally there is limited jurisdiction of the federal court over issues such as enforcement of collective bargaining agreements. Under this labor law, the union represents the entire airline other than specific domiciles. Calls for elections require at least 50% interest from the union. This Act greatly impacts on the airline and railways management relationship with the employees. Through collective bargaining, the representatives of the management and labor unions are required to file written demands on each other on the conditions and new terms of the labor contract. Kang (2012) argues that until a consensus is reached, neither of the parties involved in a dispute is allowed to change the status quo.
The Norris-La Guardia Act also known as the Anti-injunction bill was formulated in 1932. This Act led to removal of certain judicial and legal barriers that barred organized labor activities. Hepple (2005) notes of three key provisions of this Act in; protecting the rights of workers to liberty and self organization, banning of the “yellow dog” contract that prevented workers from joining labor unions, and removal of non-violent labor disputes from the federal courts. This act impacted on the employer-labor unions’ relationship by ensuring that workers were not jailed for contempt of court. Initially, the management would get issued with court injunctions in preventing employees’ involvement in strikes. The passing of this act also ensured that employees were allowed peaceful dissemination of information even on the employer’s property on the basis that such information touched on conditions and terms of employment.[Need an essay writing service? Find help here.]
Lack of equality in bargaining power especially for employees who do not have liberty of contract or full freedom of association led to the formulation of the Wagner Act in 1935. Also known as the National Labor Relations Act, it guarantees the basic rights of private sector employees in organizing into trade unions (Gold, 1998). The key provisions of this act include protection of employees against discrimination for filing charges or testifying against the employer (Kang, 2012). The act also prevents employers from discriminating or discouraging employees from supporting labor organizations. Other provisions include; protection against refusal for collective bargaining, interference, and restraint or coercing of employees in engaging with trade unions through their own representatives (Hepple, 2005). Signed at a time when the relationship between the management and workers were combative and unsure, the government stepped in outlawing unlawful monopolies and restraint in the private sector. This led to employers allowing for the creation of bargaining conditions as well as formalized agreements. Devinatz (2015) posits that this Act drastically limited the employers’ powers that enabled the latter to oppose union membership, proclaimed collective bargaining, as well as allowed employees to be represented by officials of their own choosing.
In 1947, the legislature amended the Wagner Act by adding a list of prohibited actions on the part of the trade unions. Referred to as the Taft-Hartley Act, the law prohibited wildcat, solidarity, and jurisdictional strikes, as well as closed shops and mass picketing. The unions were also barred from making monetary donations to federal political campaigns. This Act also provided for the federal court jurisdiction in enforcing collective bargaining agreements. Kang (2012) argues that this act had a great impact on the employer by providing for ways of expressing their views on unions provided that such opinions did not amount to threats, coercion, promises, and direct interference. The Act also smoothed the relations between the employees and the employer by requiring the unions to bargain in good faith. Whereas employees would refuse to work even where valid contracts existed, the act ensured that the management and unions initiated communication and made reasonable efforts in reaching an agreement.[Click Essay Writer to order your essay]
The Landrum-Griffin Act was enacted in 1959 in order to regulate the labor unions internal affairs as well as the union officials’ relations with the employers. This was as a result of increased racketeering, corruption, and misconduct in labor movements in the 1950’s (Devinatz, 2015). Among the key provisions in this Act involved the members’ right to secret ballot on particular issues facing the union. The Act also tightened secondary boycott prohibitions and outlawed hot cargo agreements. This Act further enumerated the unfair labor practices that are not contained in the Taft-Hartley Act. Under this Act, the management has a right to engage in agreements with other union shops through which their employees are members to. The Act also prohibits the unions to picket on an employer who has a valid collective bargaining contract with another union.
Devinatz, V. G. (2015). Right-to-Work Laws, the Southernization of U.S. Labor Relations and the U.S. Trade Union Movement’s Decline. Labor Studies Journal, 40(4), 297-318.
Gold, M. E. (1998). An introduction to labor law. Ithaca: ILR Press.
Hepple, B. A. (2005). Labour laws and global trade. Oxford: Hart.
Kang, S. L. (2012). Human rights and labor solidarity: Trade unions in the global economy. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.