Repeal Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley: A Strategy to Counter the Attacks on American Labor Unions

By Hogler, Raymond L. | Labor Law Journal, Fall 2015 | Go to article overview

Repeal Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley: A Strategy to Counter the Attacks on American Labor Unions


Hogler, Raymond L., Labor Law Journal


In June 1965, Senator Pat McNamara of Michigan introduced legislation to remove Section 14(b) from the Taft-Hartley Act. The bill, S. 256, proposed to eliminate a provision that authorized states to prohibit the compulsory payment of union dues for any workers covered under a labor agreement. Right to work laws, as they had become known, were an anomaly under the National Labor Relations Act because they allowed states to regulate union relationships which were otherwise preempted by federal labor law. They were also bitterly opposed by unions because they enabled "free riders" to obtain the benefits of collective bargaining without sharing in the costs. President George Meany of the American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO) regarded Section 14(b) as the major impediment to the labor movement, and he anticipated that Johnson's victory was the best political prospect for labor reform in two decades.1 The House passed HR 77, its version of the bill, on July 28 by a 221-203 roll-call vote and sent it to the Senate. 2

Acknowledging his political debt to labor, President Johnson highlighted the repeal of right to work in his 1965 state of the union message and emphasized its importance to his domestic legislative program: "And as pledged in our 1960 and 1964 Democratic platforms, I will propose to Congress changes in the Taft-Hartley Act including section 14(b). I will do so hoping to reduce the conflicts that for several years have divided Americans in various States of our Union"3 The moment appeared auspicious for the most important change in labor law in nearly two decades, but by October 1965, the repeal bills were dead. Senator Everett Dirksen led a coalition of Republicans and Southern Democrats in a fili-buster which survived repeated votes for cloture. Senate leader Mike Mansfield conceded that the filibuster had achieved its goal and withdrew the proposed bill. He also assured Dirksen that the issue would not be raised again in the session. As it happened, no further efforts have been made to eradicate Section 14(b) from federal law. Organized labor attempted to reform election procedures under the National Labor Relations Act in 1978 during the Carter administration, but that effort likewise failed in the Senate. After Democratic victories in Congress in 2006, a pallid version of labor reform passed the House but died in the Senate. By the beginning of Obama's second term in office, the concerns of organized labor had been relegated to the fringes of public policy.4

Union membership density in the United States in 1965 was 27.6 percent of wage and salary workers. That number had fallen to 11.1 percent by 2014.5 Shares of income in the U.S. roughly tracked union membership in an inverse relationship; as unions declined, the share of wealth going to the top decile increased. According to the historical analysis by Thomas Piketty and Emmanuel Saiz, the up-per 10 percent's share of income in 1929 was just under 50 percent of the total. Through the post-war expansion between 1947 and 1977, the top decile received around 35 percent of income. Beginning in 1982, that share steadily increased and rose to more than 50 percent by 2012.6 As the 2016 election campaigns begins to ramp up, inequality of wealth is emerging as the domestic issue of the political season. If the subject is taken seriously, labor reform must play an essential role. This article presents an argument to strengthen labor unions by repealing right to work laws.

The Right to Work Narrative: Fifty Years of Back to the Future

The most visible opponent of the 1964 repeal legislation was Reed Larson, then the executive vice president of the National Right to Work Committee. Larson said he represented the "grassroots of the Nation - the workers, the small business people, the professional people who understand and are concerned about the damage being done to our country by the excesses growing out of compulsory union membership. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Repeal Section 14(b) of Taft-Hartley: A Strategy to Counter the Attacks on American Labor Unions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.