Passed into federal law in the United States in 1947, the Labor-Management Relations Act places limits on the activities of labor unions. Also known as the Taft-Hartley Act, this law addressed the interactions of management and labor unions, rules for striking organizations and the rights of the federal government to act in certain situations. The Labor-Management Relations Act made many amendments to the Wagner Act, a federal law from 1935 that helped legalize labor union activity.
The Labor-Management Relations Act was written primarily by Mack Swiger of the Taft, Stettinius and Hollister law firm. It was sponsored in Congress by Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred Hartley, Jr. However, after its initial passage through both the House of Representatives and the Senate, it was vetoed by President Harry S. Truman. This veto was overridden on 23 June 1947, resulting in the law being added to Title 29 of the United States Code.
The Labor-Management Relations Act enforced additional rights for the management structure of companies with labor unions. Previous laws prohibited certain actions by management, but the Taft-Hartley Act focused on limiting the power of labor itself. Various laws were put in place regarding certain types of strikes, picketing and boycotts. Additionally, workplaces that required the hiring of union members were limited. Since this was the beginning of the era of McCarthyism, union leaders also were required to sign affidavits that supported anti-communist activities.
Certain incidents following the end of World War II prompted the creation of the Labor-Management Relations Act. After Japan surrendered and the war drew to a close, over five million American workers were involved in strikes within one year. Radicalism and communist activities became a major concern for authorities as general unionization became more prevalent. In response, approximately 250 separate bills were introduced during the Congressional session of 1947, culminating in the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act.
Following the passage of the Labor-Management Relations Act, the unions became strongly associated with the Democratic Party. Despite certain limitations imposed by the law on the funding of federal candidates by labor unions, the organizations continued to supply financial contributions to the Democrats, linking the two politically. Truman ran for reelection in 1948 on the principles that the law would be repealed, but failed in his actions after the vote. The party's opposition to the mandate continued over the years, particularly during the administrations of Presidents Carter and Clinton. However, strong Republican opposition prevented the change during every attempt.