Abandoning the Manufacturing Sector
By DAVID MACARAY
“The most effective anti-poverty program ever invented was the labor union.” George Meany
There are three important things that need to be remembered about the 1947 Labor-Management Relations Act—commonly known as the “Taft-Hartley Act,” after its congressional sponsors, Senator Robert Taft of Ohio, and House Representative Fred Hartley of New Jersey.
First, even though political pundits and social commentators continue to talk—60-odd years after the fact—about how Taft-Hartley was a necessary corrective, an antidote to runaway union excesses, a move that had to made to preserve the economic health of the nation, the legislation was far more toxic and insidious than these “reasonable response” accounts make it out to be.
Taft-Hartley was the naked attempt to neutralize America’s unions by revoking key provisions of the landmark 1935 National Labor Relations Act (commonly known as the “Wagner Act,” after its sponsor, New York Senator Robert Wagner), the act that legitimized a union’s right to strike, engage in collective bargaining, and serve as the workers’ sole representative.
Make no mistake, the vitality of the post-World War II labor movement was staggering—so staggering, in fact, that the federal government and America’s leading corporations were in a state of panic. It’s no exaggeration to say that never in our history had organized labor come so close to becoming an equal partner in the national economy than in the years directly following the war. more