Tomlins, Christopher L., The State and the Unions. Labor Relations, Law, and the Organized Labor Movement in America, 1880-1960. Cambridge University Press, 1985-1995. "Industrial pluralism" is predicated on a denial of the proposition that the interests of employers and workers are necessarily incompatible. It is the basis of labor law since the Wagner Act in 1935. Tomlins delves deeply into the formation of law since the last century, much as any historian or legal scholar might. However, his conclusions are rather different as expressed in the last lines: (Last page, 328) "...a counterfeit liberty is the most that American workers and their organizations have been able to gain through the state. Its reality they must create for themselves."
The book is really worthwhile for its conclusions as well as for the facts presented. However, it isn't good history at all. He seems to treat developments in labor law as natural outgrowths of real situations, tempered by the philosophical outlooks of the people who made or affected the laws. The AFL, government, and business are treated as if they were the only players on labor's world stage. The larger working class actually impelled all of these changes; the AFL simply participated in codifying them. Neither IWW nor USSR are even in the index!
It ruins the value of the book as a history.
In the 1830s, labor unions were persecuted under conspiracy laws. In the 1870s, injunctions were the main way that employers and politicians went after labor. After that, the anti-trust laws were turned against them. Then, in the 1930s, labor law became a part of larger contract law.
p13: After the Amalgamated Steel Workers lost against U.S. Steel, they accepted a contract that "required the union to pledge not to extend, nor even accept, organization in any plant not then under contract." They never recovered from that agreement.
p 28: Early in 19th century, states began to give up the effort to regulate corporations through control of their charters, especially after New Jersey and other states made it so attractive to incorporate there. The federal government always refused to regulate their charters.
P65: Buck Stove and Range Company -- prohibited AFL from encouraging a boycott of the company's products. (1908) Pg 67 "...on 23 December, 1908 the Supreme Court of the District of Columbia found Gompers, Secretary-Treasurer Frank Morrison, and the Federation's second vice-president, John Mitchell, to be in contempt of court for violating the Buck's Stove injunction."
Author says that craft unionism was not as big an issue is most people think. pg 70 "By 1915, in fact, only 28 of the 133 AFL unions could still be described as pure craft organizations, and of these at least half were cooperating informally with other affiliates across craft lines." Author takes this position several times, but in the AFL's protests of NLRB later on, their objects seemed to be based on craft unionism.
1924: AFL convention held in El Paso.
P95: says that bargaining with 'independent unions' began to be looked on with favor during chaos after 1929. I have to take exception. He means 'independent' only in the sense that they were not company unions. He only refers to AFL unions without mention of IWW, CIO, or actual 'independent' unions, which is what the corporations, the law, and the AFL were trying to avoid.
The section on the NLRB begins on 103 and continues throughout the book. He details the slow development of labor law as now practiced. It came mostly from NLRB decisions, not from legislation nor even court decisions. He pre-summarizes the point of most of the book on page 102: "Order and stability, no less than democracy, were goals of labor relations policy. By 1940, indeed, order and stability were fast becoming the only goals."
P105. April 6, Senate approves an AFL endorsed thirty hours bill sponsored by Senator Hugo Black. This goaded Roosevelt to take action to get NRA, then Wagner Act passed (NLRA), rather than allow the 30 hour week to become law and the main way of fighting unemployment.
Author says that craft unionism vs industrial unionism (pg 143+-) was not the real issue in the CIO creation. He says that John L. Lewis was looking for a chance to split because he didn't see how he could actually take over the AFL. It was only a power struggle, Tomlins says.
187: NLRB philosophy "Unions, it said, had no inherent rights." But the people forming the unions maintained their rights as citizens. Corporations, on the other hand, had their own rights.
203 "By early 1939 the politics of the Washington office [of NLRB] had become highly factionalized. Secretary Witt was one of the more prominent members of a communist grouping with which Board member Edwin smith was also identified."
side continued to develop the legal aspects of NLRB. They wanted to base NLRB's
power on manifestations of public authority "...the strategy which had
dictated the creation of its centralized structure in the first place."
They were eventually defeated by
p 204: William M Leiserson came on Board with a "brief from the president 'to clean up the mess' of political factionalism and communist influence at the NLRB."
247: Author believes that almost all provisions of Taft-Hartley had already been made law by the practices of the NLRB before 1947. Says that union leaders wanted "policies designed to suppress rank and file collective action and to entrench union authority even in the face of the hostility of a majority of those whom the union represented..."
263: I think this is the legal basis for company's "right" to outsource work: April 1945 in Mahoning Mining Company, "the Board held that an employer could 'change his business structure, sell our contract out of a portion of his operations, or make any like change which might affect the constituency of the appropriate union' without incurring any obligation to bargain with or even consult... [the union]."
P 295 Board highly approved the anti-communist aspects of Taft Hartley. Later decisions would make it easier for AFL or CIO unions to raid the ones they kicked out for refusing to sign loyalty affidavits.
p 307: (May, 1949) Los Angeles Building and Construction Trades Council decision "The employer was thus established in complete control of work assignments."
P 313: "John L Lewis had always stated that the organized labor movement would have been better off if neither the Wagner nor the Taft-Hartley Acts have ever been passed. He repeated his opinion for the benefit of the Senate Committee in 1953.
P 315: "That unions and their members should 'lie down like good dogs' or face the consequences from state agencies prepared to deal all the aces to their adversaries was the message which the Taft-Hartley Act sent the entire organized labor movement in 1947."
P 321 by 1957 the NLRB had effectively stopped challenging arbitration decisions. "Effectively the Supreme Court's Decisions placed grievance arbitration at the center of national labor relations policy."
P 323 "stability in industrial relations the primary objective of the Act"
323 "Such guarantees, however, were not extended to ideologically unacceptable incumbents. Thus, in the years after the anti-communist purge within the CIO in 1948-9, which culminated in the expulsion of its eleven communist-influenced affiliates, the Board successfully manipulated its contract-bar rules to the disadvantage of the communist unions by developing a 'schism' doctrine which effectively encouraged the raiding of Communist-led incumbents by AFL and CIO unions."
Pg 327 " 'The principal difference between the working people and the courts,' Samuel Gompers told members of both houses of Congress in 1914, 'lies in the marked tendency of the courts to guarantee to the workman an academic and theoretic liberty which he does not want by denying him industrial rights to which he is ethically entitled.' Or, in other words, what the state offered workers and their organizations was ultimately no more than the opportunity to participate in the construction of their own subordination."