Labor Unions Win Exemption from Antitrust Laws (Great Events from History II: Business and Commerce Series)
Article abstract: Provisions of the Clayton Antitrust Act sought to exempt unions from prosecutions under the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890 and under the Clayton Act itself.
Summary of Event
Labor reforms embodied in provisions of the Clayton Act of 1914 had been decades in coming to realization. American labor legislation in the mid-nineteenth century had been as advanced in some regards as any in the world. The famed decision of the Massachusetts Supreme Court in Commonwealth v. Hunt in 1842 exemplified wide public acknowledgment that efforts by labor combinations to raise wages did not constitute a “conspiracy” and that laborers were justified in striking to win a closed, or all-union, shop. Half a century later, however, this tolerance of labor’s right to organize in its own self-interest had altered drastically in the public mind and therefore had changed the character and interpretations of labor legislation.
The unprecedented industrialization of the United States and the attendant political ascendancy of the business classes were reflected in judicial decisions relevant to labor organizations and their methods. By the 1880’s, the nation’s courts were stipulating that labor’s right to combine and to strike were subject to serious legal restrictions.
The judiciary’s antilabor bias was attributable in part to the violence that had marked labor protests, notably in an...
(The entire section is 2037 words.)
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