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Legal and Ethical Perspective of Labor Relations in the US - Essay Sample

5 pages
1262 words
University of California, Santa Barbara
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The United States Department of labor is mandated with administering and enforcing over 180 federal laws which cover many workplace activities for about one hundred and twenty-five million workers and ten million employers. Labor laws in the US establish employees, labor unions and employers' rights and duties in the US with the basic aim of remedying the inequality of bargaining power between workers and their employers. This paper explores some of the major labor laws in the United States of America.

A yellow dog contract, as described in the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932, refers to an agreement an employer had with the employer where the employee agreed, as part of the terms of the contract, not to join a labor union (Finkin, 2014). The employees were also supposed to give up employment in case an employee joined a union during their employment period. The contract gave the employer legal recourse in the event the employees demonstrated against the company. The Norris-LaGuardia Act cosponsored in Congress by George Norris, and Fiorello La Guardia outlawed yellow dog contracts and barred federal courts from ruling on nonviolent labor disputes. It further stopped the federal government from tampering with the right of a worker to join a trade union when desired. The philosophy of the act was that keeping courts from interfering would allow labor to fight its battles.

The Wagner Act of 1935 is a labor legislation act enacted in the United States in the nineteenth century and sponsored by Democrat Senator Robert Wagner of the New York. The main purpose of the act was to outline the legal right of most workers to form or enroll in labor unions and to be able to exercise collective bargaining (Walker, 2016). It outlined the federal government as the watchdog and final arbiter of labor relations. It established a permanent three-member, later five-member National Relations Board tasked with hearing and resolving labor disputes via quasi-judicial proceedings. In particular, the NLRB was enabled to choose, when requested of by workers, if a suitable bargaining unit of representatives existed for bargaining collectively. To conduct elections via a secret ballot in which the workers in an industry or business could choose if they desired to be represented by the labor unions. And to forestall or revise biased labor rehearses by employers. Employers were restricted by the act from participating in such out of line rehearses as setting up a company union and terminating or oppressing laborers who sorted out or joined unions. Employers were likewise banned by the act from declining to deal with workers union that had been affirmed by the NLRB as the decision of a larger section of workers. Republicans and large business opposed the act challenging it in court as an infringement of the freedom of contract of employers and workers as an unlawful interference by the federal government in ventures that were not straightforwardly occupied with interstate trade, which the Congress, under commerce act, was empowered to control. The constitutionality of the act was eventually upheld by the Supreme Court of the United States of America.

The Wagner Bill proposed to make another free officethe National Labor Relations Board made up of three individuals selected by the President and affirmed by the Senate-to authorize worker rights as opposed to intercede debate. It gave representatives the right, under Section 7, to frame and join unions, and it committed employers to have a collective bargain with unions chosen by a dominant part of the workers in a suitable bargaining unit. The measure embraced the standards of selective representation and larger part control, given to the implementation of the decision of the union, and canvassed most laborers in ventures whose operations influenced interstate business.

The Taft-Hartley Act is a federal law established in 1947 (Hogler, 2015). The law bans certain practices by unions and calls for disclosure of certain unions' financial and political activities. The act was an amendment to the Wagner Act of 1935. The Taft-Hartley Act passed by Congress in 1947 overridden President Trumans veto. The bill was seen by the Congress as significant in countering union abuses, to put a stop to a sequence of strikes that eminent after the end of the Second World War. It was also necessary, according to the Congress to thwart the influence of Communist in the labor movement. The Act had the following impacts on the labor unions (Hogler, 2015).

One impact was that it brought an amendment that protected the rights of employees under section 7 of the Wagner Act giving employees the right to establish unions and take part in bargaining collectively with employers. The amended offered protection to the workers from being coerced by unions in a manner that is unfair which constituted employee discrimination. Another impact was that it brought an amendment barring employers from refusing to hire prospective employees because they failed to join a union. It provided for employers to sign an agreement with a union requiring a worker to join the union before the thirty days of employee's employment. It also brought an amendment requiring unions to bargain in good faith with employers. Another amendment brought by the Act banned unions from conducting secondary boycotts. For example, if there exists a dispute between a union and an employer, the union is prohibited under the law from coercing or urging another entity to boycott business with the employer. The act also restrained unions from using the unions for personal gain. The unions were barred from charging excess membership fees. They were also banned from coercing employers into paying members to work they never performed. The Act in its sixth amendment included a free speech clause for employers. It gave employers the right to express their views and opinions on issues touching on labor. The views are deemed okay provided the employer does not include in it threats of withholding benefits or engaging in any other act of retribution against employees. The Taft-Hartley Act also came up with changes to union election laws excluding supervisors from bargaining groups and provided specific treatment some professional employees. Also, the Act established four new types of elections-one giving employers the right to vote on union demands and the other three entitling employees to conduct elections on the status of incumbent unions to establish the mandate of the union in entering agreements for employees and withdrawal of union representation after it is granted.

Employment laws also referred to as the labor laws regulate the rights and duties of employees and their employers. The laws are designed primarily to safeguard workers safety and ensure they are treated fairly. Labor Unions, on the other hand, are representatives of employees whose main role is to collectively bargain on behalf of employees over wages and working conditions. The two play specific roles with a common interest, and none replaces the other. Employment laws, therefore, do not replace the need for labor unions.

In conclusion, Labor laws have been very crucial in establishing employees, labor unions and employers' rights and duties in the US with the basic aim of remedying the inequality of bargaining power between workers and their employers. The Acts are still relevant in today's business environment. The acts still play a major role in protecting workers from being coerced by workers and unions, and also from being charged excess membership fees by unions.


Finkin, M. W. (2014). The meaning and contemporary vitality of the Norris LaGuardia act. Neb. L. Rev., 93, 6.

Walker, A. W. (2016). Wagner Act (1935). The Cambridge Guide to African American History, 289.

Hogler, R. L. (2015). Repeal section 14 (b) of Taft-Hartley: A strategy to counter the attacks on American labor unions. Labor Law Journal, 66(3), 155.

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