Emergency Disputes and National Policy

Emergency Disputes and National Policy

Emergency Disputes and National Policy

Emergency Disputes and National Policy

Excerpt

The strike is the most dramatic form that labor-management relations take. A nationwide and industry-wide stoppage in a basic industry may do more than capture the imagination; it may also shut off goods or services vital to the health and safety of millions of people. This, in essence, is the national emergency dispute issue.

Like most great policy questions in a democratic society, it is more readily framed than resolved. This is because the emergency problem provides an arena for a set of irreconcilable convictions that most reasonable Americans share. In the great stoppage in a key industry we find the union insisting upon its right to strike, the employer insisting upon his right to run his business without government regimentation, and the community insisting upon its right to an uninterrupted flow of goods or services necessary to the public health and safety. Admittedly, there are no pat answers. Policy must be shaped out of conflicting values and imperfect knowledge.

The present national policy, set forth in Title II of the Taft- Hartley Act of 1947, stems from the strike wave following World War II. There is probably no provision of this controversial statute so universally criticized as that dealing with emergencies. Yet the critics can agree only upon what they dislike; their affirmative proposals run the gamut from nothing at all to compulsory arbitration.

This is the axis upon which the present volume revolves. In question form it may be framed in this fashion: what does the interested legislator and citizen need to know in order to shape a national policy for emergency disputes? This fundamental query divides itself logically into the three subquestions that form the main sections of the book: (1) what is a national emergency dispute? (2) what is the Taft-Hartley experience? and (3) what are the elements of a national policy?

Given this focus, it has been necessary to devote only incidental attention to two important areas of investigation. They are the ex-

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