The Taft-Hartley Act: ‘Neutrality’ as a Weapon

Image of picket line.

Ronald Reagan’s firing of 11,000 striking air traffic controllers put an end to the public sector strike wave. But not even Reagan challenged public workers’ right to collective bargaining. Credit: Jim West, jimwestphoto.com

One of the primary tools long used to suppress labor in the United States is the Taft-Hartley Act, which became law 76 years ago in June. Specifically written to reduce the organizing power of working people to the maximum extent reasonably possible, it is sometimes overlooked that the law was passed with Democratic Party as well as Republican support.

Working people had won for themselves powerful gains during the dramatic upsurge of union organizing during the latter years of the Great Depression, and after agreeing to not conduct strikes during World War II, unions were again flexing their muscles so that their members could make up some of what was lost from the war’s pay freezes. In response, U.S. Big Business interests saw their first opportunity to begin the dismantling of the New Deal, implemented by Franklin Delano Roosevelt in response to massive unrest that threatened to topple the capitalist system.

To read this article, log in here or subscribe here.
If you are logged in but can't read CP+ articles, check the status of your access here
In order to read CP+ articles, your web browser must be set to accept cookies.

Pete Dolack writes the Systemic Disorder blog and has been an activist with several groups. His first book, It’s Not Over: Learning From the Socialist Experiment, is available from Zero Books and his second book, What Do We Need Bosses For?, is forthcoming from Autonomedia.

CounterPunch Magazine Archive

Read over 400 magazine and newsletter back issues here

Support CounterPunch

Make a tax-deductible monthly or one-time donation and enjoy access to CP+.  Donate Now

Support our evolving Subscribe Area and enjoy access to all Subscribers content.  Subscribe