Strike Action and the Law

January 30, 1963

Report Outline
Rash of National Emergency Disputes
Labor Unions, the Courts, and the Law
Proposed Changes in Federal Labor Laws

Rash of National Emergency Disputes

Protracted Strikes have caused serious economic hardship in numerous cities and in entire regions of the country in recent weeks. A longshoremen's walkout shut down ocean shipping in and out of Atlantic and Gulf ports for five weeks. Daily newspaper publication has been halted in New York City since early December and in Cleveland since the end of November. Labor troubles have suspended operation of one of Florida's mainline railroads. A strike in the vital aerospace industry is being held off only by a temporary court injunction. Other labor troubles loom in the months ahead. There is threat of a nationwide railroad strike over featherbedding next summer. And contract negotiations coming up this year in such industries as communications, electrical supply, oil, rubber and steel are likely to be difficult.

In the past, wages and the right to organize were the principal issues in labor disputes. Fringe benefits took on importance during World War II, when wage increases were restricted. Now, with the rapid advance of automation, job security is emerging as labor's major concern. But strikes tend only to aggravate the situation. Employers, intent on making up the costs of added labor benefits and losses from recurrent work stoppages, invest more heavily than before in automated equipment. Hence the problem facing management, labor and, increasingly, the federal government is how to keep strikes at a minimum and maintain a high level of employment. The recent work stoppages have given rise to unusual mediatory action, and they have brought demands for new legislation to protect the public against future shutdowns that would seriously affect the economy or endanger the security of the United States.

Problem of Safeguarding the Public Interest

President Kennedy has made no secret of his dissatisfaction with present machinery, provided by the Labor-Management Relations [Taft-Hartley] Act of 1947, for handling labor conflicts that threaten to cause a national emergency. While campaigning for the presidency in the autumn of 1960, Kennedy declared that it was “time to re-examine the applicable provisions of the Taft-Hartley law and to substitute fairer, more workable and more effective provisions for dealing with national emergency disputes.” Later, he said he thought that “The President should be given a variety of tools [to deal with emergency disputes] and use them effectively.” He added that the President should “not have the legal power to compel” a settlement.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Labor Unions
Aug. 07, 2015  Unions at a Crossroads
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
Mar. 24, 1978  Labor's Southern Strategy
Aug. 20, 1976  Labor's Options
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”
Commercial Law
Unions and Labor-Management Relations