Company Unions and Collective Bargaining

April 17, 1934

Report Outline
Recovery Act Guarantees and the Company Union
Company Union Organization Under Recovery Act
Company Unions Vs. Trade Unions
Wagner Bill to Outlaw Employer Influence in Unions

Recovery Act Guarantees and the Company Union

Roosevelt Action on Employee Representation

The Rapid Growth of company unions during the first ten months under the National Industrial Recovery Act has alarmed the trade union movement and aroused widespread fear that the collective bargaining guarantees of the act may be rendered ineffective. In an effort to out-law all except bona fide, labor organizations, Senator Wagner (D., N. Y.) incorporated in his proposed Labor Disputes Act, introduced on March 1, 1934, a section making it an “unfair labor practice” for an employer to initiate the formation of a union, participate in its activities, or attempt to influence its policies.

Extensive hearings were held on the Wagner bill, at which it was warmly advocated by organized labor and vigorously attacked by employers and representatives of company unions. To meet the claim that the measure. as drawn was discriminatory, in that it prevented coercion of employees by employers without also preventing their coercion by outside labor leaders, Wagner agreed to amend it to outlaw coercion from all sources. The chances of the hill's passage were materially diminished by the President's settlement, March 25, of the threatened automobile strike in which company unions and outside uninns were both recognized for purposes of joint collective bargaining with employers. The government favored no particular form of employee organization or representation, the President said. Its sole duty was to insure freedom of choice without coercion from any source. “In the settlement,” he added, “there is a framework for a new structure of industrial relations, a new understanding between employers and employees.” The Wagner bill is now believed to have little chance of enactment at this session of Congress in the absence of a strongly-worded declaration in its favor by the President.

If the company union is not to be outlawed, a bitter struggle between the two types of employee organization may be in preparation. It is quite possible, on the other hand, that the pressure of outside unions may force company unions to take a more aggressive stand, in order to retain the allegiance of their members. As groups of company unions are established in the same industry and the same locality, moreover, they will in all likelihood cooperate with each other, and thus may come more closely to resemble outside unions. In some instances the members of an outside union have obtained control of company union machinery by winning the company union election for officers. In such cases the company union may function virtually as a local of the outside trade union.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
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Sep. 02, 2005  Labor Unions' Future Updated
Jun. 28, 1996  Labor Movement's Future
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
Jan. 30, 1963  Strike Action and the Law
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
Mar. 05, 1949  Closed Shop
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
Jan. 30, 1946  Compulsory Settlement of Labor Disputes
May 18, 1945  Labor Policy After the War
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
Sep. 09, 1927  Organized Labor and the Works Council Movement
Oct. 12, 1923  The A.F. of L. and the “New Radicalism”
Unions and Labor-Management Relations