The US Department of Labor (DOL) enforces and administers up to 180 federal laws that regulate and cover many workplace activities for millions of workers and employers in their different workplaces. The subject of labor law consists of rules that govern employer-employee relationships. Most of DOL’s principles of statutes are commonly applicable to job seekers, workers, retirees, contractors, guarantees, and businesses. The DOL deals with issues with issues such as wages, leaves, governments contracts, grants and financial, transportation, construction etc. This paper describes the railway labor Act, Norris LaGuardia Act, Wagner Act, Taft Hartley Act, and the Landrum-Griffin Act (Eidelson, 2013).
Keywords: Laws, Acts, Legal, Labor
The Railway Labor Act
This Act was created to prevent strikes and lockouts that were a hindrance to the economy. The congress had to pass notes to encourage mediation and arbitration to settle disputes without disrupting interstate commerce. This act imposes a duty on carriers and employees to exert every reasonable effort to make and maintain every collective bargaining agreement and to settle all disputes. The railway labor Act is administered by the national mediation board that is an independent federal agency (Act, 2014). The railway labor Act has elaborate procedures that are designed to; facilitate negotiations, narrow disputes, and focus public opinion on the participants to make the parties voluntarily reach an agreement. The National Mediation Board’s ability to hold the parties in mediation helps to force good faith negotiations which assist the parties in settling and maintain status quo requirements of the Railway Labor Act.
The Act also provides compulsory dispute resolution procedures that rule out strikes over union presentations and union bickering, and postpone the ability of the parties to take action in bargaining disputes until they have completed an elaborate time-consuming process involving negotiation and mediation by the national mediation board with a possible review by a presidential emergency board and cooling-off periods. Where parties are unable to reach a peaceful solution to their labor disputes the presidential emergency board gives recommendations to help the congress and the administration quickly respond to self-help actions by the parties. Employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choice.
The Wagner Act
It is commonly referred to as the National Labor Relations Act. The main purpose of this Act was to establish the rights of most workers to organize or join labor unions and bargain comprehensively with their employees. The legislation was drafted to make it more likely that commercial interest could be conducted without disruptions from strikes, thus protecting businesses in the economy as well as workers. This act covers all employers in the private sector involved in interstate commerce except airlines, railroads, agriculture, and government.
The creation of the national labor regulations board has overseen union-management relations and designates the legal structure for the formation and desertification of unions and for conducting fair elections. The board investigates charges by workers, union representatives, and employers when their rights have been violated (Barenberg, 1993). In the case of the National Labor relations board versus Jones and Laughlin Steel Corp in 1937, the Wagner Act contributed to a dramatic surge in union membership and made labor a force to be reconned both economically and politically. Women benefited from this shift to unionization as well. Therefore, more women were (belonged to) unions.
The Norris LaGuardia Act
Also known as the Anti- Injunction Bill, The Norris LaGuardia Act is a legislative Act passed in 1932 that removes certain legal and judicial barriers against activities of organized labor in the United States. It granted labor onion members full freedom of associations and barred the federal courts from issuing injunctions to prevent strikes, picketing, and boycotts, thus prohibiting the yellow dog contracts. Previously employers could sign an agreement pledging that they would not join a union and if the workers did join a union after signing such agreements, they were fired (Finkin, 2014). The court began to recognize the validity of workers seeking shorter workdays and higher wages. The Act provided for a more equitable relationship between the judiciary and the Nations’s Labor Relations system. Being among the first federal labor laws that braced organized labor, the Norris LaGuardia Act was a great step towards the victory of labor reform. After it was passed it set the pace for a positive trend towards more favorable labor policies by the government (Mayhew, 2013). The Norris LaGuardia Act was part of the change in labor relations. It marked a great change in the US government superintendence over labor.
Taft Hartley Act
The Taft- Hartley Act, also known as The Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, is a federal law that prohibits certain practices by unions and restricts their power. It requires disclosure of certain political and financial activities by unions. This act amended the Wagner act as it saw it as necessary to counter union-based abuses and to suppress communist influence in the labor movement. At first, it was referred to as the slave-labor bill by union critics but the republican congress with encouragement from the business lobby decided it was necessary to counter the many large-scale strikes that were prominent then. It also helped suppress the communist influence on the labor movement.
The Taft Hartley Act provided the following amendments for workers; first, under Section 7 of the Wagner Act, it gave employees the rights to form unions and to engage in collective bargaining with their employers. This Act protected employees from unfair coercion by unions, which would result in employee discrimination. Secondly, it provided that an employer could not refuse to hire a prospective employee for not joining a union, but they had to sign an agreement that employees join a union before their thirtieth day of employment. The Act stipulated that unions were required to bargain in good faith with employers and it prohibited secondary boycotts by unions. Then, the Act prohibited unions from taking advantage of their members, and finally, it provided a fair speech clause where employers had the right to express fair views on labor. The Taft Hartley Act weakened unions by restricting their actions in organizations and gave the president more power over striking workers. The Act also empowered companies in controlling labor agreement contacts.
It is also known as the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA). This Act deals with the relationship between a union and its members, and grants certain rights to union members. It protects their interests by promoting democratic procedures within labor organizations. It sought to prevent improper practices by labor organizations, employers, and others by establishing a bill of rights for union members. The LMRDA enacted in 1959 provided for the protection of employees and gave them rights to organize, bargain collectively, and select their representatives. This Act affects small unions whose credibility and ethical practices had not been questioned, unlike large unions whose practices had been questioned. This is because large unions can retail lawyers to manage their affairs. Subversive attempts by these unions might be hard to check then past attempts due to fewer restraints and countenances on campaigning within the unions (Wilson, 2005).
Act, R. (2014). 23.02. 1999; RT I 1999, 29, 405. Available online at. Accessed on, 29.
Barenberg, M. (1993). The political economy of the Wagner Act: power, symbol, and workplace cooperation. Harvard Law Review, 1379-1496.
Eidelson, J. (2013). Alt-labor. The American Prospect, 24(Jan/Feb), 15-18.
Finkin, M. W. (2014). The Meaning and Contemporary Vitality of the Norris-LaGuardia Act. Neb. L. Rev., 93, 6.
Mayhew, D. R. (2013). Party loyalty among congressmen: The difference between democrats and republicans, 1947-1962. Harvard University Press.
Wilson, P. B. (2005). Conquering the enemy within: The case for reform of the Landrum-Griffin act. Journal of Labor Research, 26(1), 135-154