What is the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947?
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The Taft-Hartley Act was, as you say, passed in 1947. It was a reaction to the pro-union laws (like the Wagner Act and the National Labor Relations Act) that had been passed during the Great Depression.
The Taft-Hartley Act prohibited actions by unions where the previous acts had prohibited actions by employers. Some actions (or things) that the new law banned were:
- secondary strikes
- the closed shop
The act also gave employers a wide variety of powers that they had not had before. These powers are too numerous to list here.
It's also important to remember the timing of this act. It came not long after World War II, where, because so many working Americans were in the military and overseas, and the demand for war material so great, that the workers who remained behind, including African-Americans and women, had made significant gains in wages and benefits. Unions enjoyed large memberships and real political power.
Taft-Hartley was an attempt to rollback some of those gains on behalf of wealthy business owners, and right at a time when the economy was rapidly expanding and the middle class was demanding ever larger numbers of consumer goods.
Truman's political party, the Democrats, were very unpopular that year as well.
The Taft-Hartley Act of 1947 was to curb the power of labor unions. Supporters of this act believed that Unions were abusing their powers. Organized labor would oppose this act.
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