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Featherbedding and Union Work Rules

November 4, 1959

Report Outline
New Conflicts Over Featherbedding
Dispute Over Railroad Featherbedding
Local Work Rules in Steel Industry
Methods of Dealing with Featherbedding

New Conflicts Over Featherbedding

A bitter struggle over union work rules has been a prime factor in making the current steel strike the longest in 40 years. Steel management and steel labor have locked horns over authority to alter working conditions which vary from plant to plant across the country. Another fight about work rules is apt to be the central issue in negotiations between the railroads and railroad operating employees on labor agreements to replace contracts which expired Oct. 31. The same question has been involved this year in labor disputes on the nation's waterfronts, in the packing industry, and in other sectors.

Industry's stated objective in each case has been to remove supposed bars to increased productivity. Labor's stand has been based on fear that, without protective rules, employers will seek to increase productivity by speeding up operations or by extending mechanization or automation without providing adequately for workers whose jobs are taken away in the process. In sum, management wants the unilateral right to eliminate what it views as loafing or featherbedding, while organized labor is bent on preserving rules which it considers necessary to protect the worker, his job, or both.

General Nature of Union Make-Work Rules

The term “featherbedding” cannot be precisely denned; in general, it is taken to mean use of more manpower than is necessary to do a given job. Chief among union work rules, written or unwritten, which are often accused of responsibility for feather bed ding are rules that limit the operating speed of machines; limit the amount of work that may be performed over a specified span of time; require adherence to established work practices; impede introduction of new machinery; regulate the size of work crews; or require performance of duplicative work or the independent performance of work that could be done in the course of other operations.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
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Jun. 14, 1985  Organized Labor in the 1980s
Nov. 06, 1981  Labor Under Siege
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Oct. 27, 1971  Organized Labor After the Freeze
Oct. 19, 1966  Labor Strife and the Public Interest
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Sep. 20, 1961  Conflicts in Organized Labor
Aug. 04, 1960  Labor, Management, and the National Interest
Dec. 16, 1959  Future of Free Collective Bargaining
Nov. 04, 1959  Featherbedding and Union Work Rules
Feb. 18, 1959  Public Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 09, 1958  Suits Against Labor Unions
Nov. 13, 1957  Right-To-Work Laws
Oct. 31, 1956  Union Organizing
May 01, 1954  State Powers in Labor Relations
Oct. 02, 1953  Toward Labor Unity
Apr. 11, 1953  Industry-Wide Bargaining and Industry-Wide Strikes
Sep. 03, 1952  Labor and Politics
Mar. 25, 1950  Labor Injunctions
Jan. 25, 1950  Trade Unions and Productivity
Sep. 26, 1949  Fact-Finding Boards in Labor Disputes
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Dec. 01, 1948  Revision of the Taft-Hartley Act
Jan. 01, 1947  Labor Unions, the Public and the Law
Oct. 09, 1946  Revision of the Wagner Act
Sep. 25, 1946  Labor Productivity
May 29, 1946  Labor Organization in the South
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Mar. 29, 1945  Union Maintenance
Feb. 02, 1945  Labor Relations in Coal Mining
Oct. 12, 1944  No-Strike Pledge
Sep. 16, 1944  Political Action by Organized Labor
May 30, 1944  Unionization of Foremen
Apr. 01, 1944  Dismissal Pay
Apr. 29, 1943  Labor in Government
Apr. 09, 1943  Public Regulation of Trade Unions
Nov. 19, 1941  Labor Policies of the Roosevelt Administration
Oct. 23, 1941  Closed Shop Issue in Labor Relations
Mar. 29, 1941  Labor as Partner in Production
Feb. 12, 1941  Labor and the Defense Program
Feb. 23, 1940  Labor in Politics
Jan. 17, 1939  Settlement of Disputes Between Labor Unions
Jul. 01, 1938  Three Years of National Labor Relations Act
Nov. 12, 1937  State Regulation of Labor Relations
Jul. 10, 1937  Restrictions on the Right to Strike
Apr. 28, 1937  The Labor Market and the Unemployed
Mar. 26, 1937  Control of the Sit-Down Strike
Mar. 13, 1937  Collective Bargaining in the Soft-Coal Industry
Jan. 22, 1937  Responsibility of Labor Unions
Nov. 11, 1936  Industrial Unionism and the A.F. of L.
Jul. 30, 1936  Federal Intervention in Labor Disputes
Jul. 14, 1936  Labor Relations in the Steel Industry
Apr. 17, 1934  Company Unions and Collective Bargaining
Feb. 07, 1934  Settlement of Labor Disputes
Sep. 12, 1933  Trade Unionism Under the Recovery Program
Feb. 17, 1932  Wage Concessions by Trade Unions
Oct. 01, 1929  Status of the American Labor Movement
Jul. 20, 1929  Trade Unionism in the South
Aug. 31, 1928  Organized Labor in National Politics
Feb. 04, 1928  The Use of Injunctions in Labor Disputes
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Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Unions and Labor-Management Relations
Wages
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