Since post offices are closed on Labor Day and because Labor Day is a federal holiday, mail men, who are government employees, get Labor Day off.
American Federation of Labor
United States labor law
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) was one of the first federations of labor unions in the United States. It was founded in Columbus, Ohio in May 1886 by an alliance of craft unions disaffected from the Knights of Labor, a national labor association. Samuel Gompers of the Cigar Makers' International Union was elected president of the Federation at its founding convention and was reelected every year except one until his death in 1924. The AFL was the largest union grouping in the United States for the first half of the 20th century, even after the creation of the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) by unions that were expelled by the AFL in 1935 over its opposition to industrial unionism. While the Federation was founded and dominated by craft unions throughout the first fifty years of its existence, many of its craft union affiliates turned to organizing on an industrial union basis to meet the challenge from the CIO in the 1940s.
In 1955, the AFL merged with its longtime rival, the Congress of Industrial Organizations, to form the AFL-CIO, a federation which remains in place to this day. Together with its offspring, the AFL has comprised the longest lasting and most influential labor federation in the United States.
The American Federation of Labor (AFL) organized as an association of trade unions in 1886. The organization emerged out of a dispute with the Knights of Labor (K of L) organization, in which the leadership of that organization solicited locals of various craft unions to withdraw from their International organizations and to affiliate with the K of L directly, action which would have taken funds from the various unions and enriched the K of L's coffers.
One of the organizations embroiled in this controversy was the Cigar Makers' International Union (CMIU), a group subject to competition from a dual union, a rival "Progressive Cigarmakers' Union," organized by members suspended or expelled by the CMIU. The two cigar unions competed with one another in signing contracts with various cigar manufacturers, who were at this same time combining themselves into manufacturers' associations of their own in New York City, Detroit, Cincinnati, Chicago, and Milwaukee.
In January 1886, the Cigar Manufacturers' Association of New York City attempted to flex its muscle by announcing a 20 percent wage cut in factories around the city. The Cigar Makers' International Union refused to accept the cut and 6,000 of its members in 19 factories were locked out by the owners. A strike lasting four weeks ensued. Just when it appeared that the strike might be won, the New York District Assembly of the Knights of Labor leaped into the breach, offering to settle with the 19 factories at a lower wage scale than that proposed by the CMIU, so long as only the Progressive Cigarmakers' Union was employed.
The leadership of the CMIU was enraged and demanded that the New York District Assembly be investigated and punished by the national officials of the K of L. The committee of investigation was controlled by individuals friendly to the New York District Assembly, however, and the latter was exonerated. The American Federation of Labor was thus originally formed as an alliance of craft unions outside the Knights of Labor as a means of defending themselves against this and similar incursions.
On April 25, 1886, a circular letter was issued by Strasser of the Cigar Makers and P.J. McGuire of the Carpenters, addressed to all national trade unions and calling for their attendance of a conference in Philadelphia on May 18. The call stated that an element of the Knights of Labor was doing "malicious work" and causing "incalculable mischief by arousing antagonisms and dissensions in the labor movement." The call was signed by Strasser and McGuire, along with representatives of the Granite Cutters, the Iron Molders, and the secretary of the Federation of Trades of North America, a forerunner of the AFL founded in 1881.
Forty-three invitations were mailed, which drew the attendance of 20 delegates and letters of approval from 12 other unions. At this preliminary gathering, held in Donaldson Hall on the corner of Broad and Filbert Streets, the K of L was charged with conspiring with anti-union bosses to provide labor at below going union rates and with making use of individuals who had crossed picket lines or defaulted on payment of union dues. The body authored a "treaty" to be presented to the forthcoming May 24, 1886, convention of the Knights of Labor, which demanded that the K of L cease attempting to organize members of International Unions into its own assemblies without permission of the unions involved and that K of L organizers violating this provision should suffer immediate suspension.
For its part, the Knights of Labor considered the demand for the parcelling of the labor movement into narrow craft-based fiefdoms to be anathema, a violation of the principle of solidarity of all workers across craft lines. Negotiations with the dissident craft unions were nipped in the bud by the governing General Assembly of the K of L, however, with the organization's Grand Master Workman, Terence V. Powderly, refusing to enter into serious discussions on the matter. The actions of the New York District Assembly of the K of L was upheld.
Convinced that no accommodation with the leadership of the Knights of Labor was possible, the heads of the five labor organizations which issued the call for the April 1886 conference issued a new call for a convention to be held December 8, 1886 in Columbus, Ohio in order to construct "an American federation of alliance of all national and international trade unions." Forty-two delegates representing 13 national unions and various other local labor organizations responded to the call, agreeing to form themselves into an American Federation of Labor.
Revenue for the new organization was to be raised on the basis of a "per-capita tax" of its member organizations, set at the rate of one-half cent per member per month (i.e. six cents per year). Governance of the organization was to be by annual conventions, with one delegate allocated for every 4,000 members of each affiliated union. The founding convention voted to make the President of the new federation a full-time official at a salary of $1,000 per year, and Samuel Gompers of the Cigar Makers' International Union was elected to the position. Gompers would ultimately be re-elected to the position by annual conventions of the organization for every year save one until his death nearly four decades later.
Although the founding convention of the AFL had authorized the establishment of a publication for the new organization, Gompers made use of the existing labor press to generate support for the position of the craft unions against the Knights of Labor. Powerful opinion-makers of the American labor movement such as the Philadelphia Tocsin, Haverhill Labor, the Brooklyn Labor Press, and the Denver Labor Enquirer granted Gompers space in their pages, in which he made the case for the unions against the attacks of employers, "all too often aided by the K of L."
Headway was made in the form of endorsement by various local labor bodies. Some assemblies of the K of L supported the Cigar Makers' position and departed the organization: in Baltimore, 30 locals left the organization, while the membership of the Knights in Chicago fell from 25,000 in 1886 to just 3,500 in 1887. Factional warfare broke out in the K of L, with Terence Powderly blaming the organization's travails on "radicals" in its ranks, while those opposing Powderly called for an end to what they perceived as "autocratic leadership."
In the face of the steady disintegration of its rival, the fledgling American Federation of Labor struggled to maintain itself, with the group showing very slow and incremental growth in its first years, only cracking the 250,000 member mark in 1892. The group from the outset concentrated upon the income and working conditions of its membership as its almost sole focus. The AFL's founding convention declaring "higher wages and a shorter workday" to be "preliminary steps toward great and accompanying improvements in the condition of the working people." Participation in partisan politics was avoided as inherently divisive, and the group's constitution was structured to prevent the admission of political parties as affiliates.
This fundamentally conservative "pure and simple" approach limited the AFL to matters pertaining to working conditions and rates of pay, relegating political goals to its allies in the political sphere. The Federation favored pursuit of workers' immediate demands rather than challenging the property rights of owners, and took a pragmatic view of politics which favored tactical support for particular politicians over formation of a party devoted to workers' interests. The AFL's leadership believed the expansion of the capitalist system was seen as the path to betterment of labor, an orientation making it possible for the AFL to present itself as what one historian has called "the conservative alternative to working class radicalism."
The AFL faced its first major reversal when employers launched an open shop movement in 1903 designed to drive unions out of construction, mining, longshore and other industries. Membership in the AFL's affiliated unions declined between 1904 and 1914 in the face of this concerted anti-union drive, which made effective use of legal injunctions against strikes, court rulings given force when backed with the armed might of the state.][
Ever the pragmatist, Gompers argued that labor should "reward its friends and punish its enemies" in both major parties. However, in the 1900s (decade), the two parties began to realign, with the main faction of the Republican Party coming to identify with the interests of banks and manufacturers, while a substantial portion of the rival Democratic Party took a more labor-friendly position. While not precluding its members from belonging to the Socialist Party or working with its members, the AFL traditionally refused to pursue the tactic of independent political action by the workers in the form of the existing Socialist Party or the establishment of a new labor party. After 1908, the organization's tie to the Democratic party grew increasingly strong.][
Some unions within the AFL helped form and participated in the National Civic Federation. The National Civic Federation was formed by several progressive employers who sought to avoid labor disputes by fostering collective bargaining and "responsible" unionism. Labor's participation in this federation, at first tentative, created internal division within the AFL. Socialists, who believed the only way to help workers was to remove large industry from private ownership, denounced labor's efforts at cooperation with the capitalists in the National Civic Federation. The AFL nonetheless continued its association with the group, which declined in importance as the decade of the 1910s drew to a close.][
By the 1890s, Gompers was planning an international federation of labor, starting with the expansion of AFL affiliates in Canada, especially Ontario. He helped the Canadian Trades and Labour Congress with money and organizers, and by 1902, the AFL came to dominate the Canadian union movement.
The AFL vigorously opposed unrestricted immigration from Europe for moral, cultural, and racial reasons. The issue unified the workers who feared that an influx of new workers would flood the labor market and lower wages. Nativism was not a factor because upwards of half the union members were themselves immigrants or the sons of immigrants from Ireland, Germany and Britain. Nativism was a factor when the AFL even more strenuously opposed all immigration from Asia because it represented (to its Euro-American members) an alien culture that could not be assimilated into American society. The AFL intensified its opposition after 1906 and was instrumental in passing immigration restriction bills from the 1890s to the 1920s, such as the 1921 Emergency Quota Act and the Immigration Act of 1924, and seeing that they were strictly enforced.
Mink (1986) concludes that the link between the AFL and the Democratic Party rested in part on immigration issues, noting the large corporations, which supported the Republicans, wanted more immigration to augment their labor force.
The AFL reached a zenith of sorts during the administration of Democrat Woodrow Wilson. Particularly during the years of World War I, American unions were given considerable government protection and cooperation between capital and labor was actively sought as the best means of rationalizing and increasing American production on behalf of the war effort. Unions, including the AFL itself, welcomed governmental intervention in favor of collective bargaining during World War I. Unions in the packinghouse industry were able to form due to governmental pressure on the largest employers to recognize the unions rather than face a strike. Expansion of the organized labor movement followed and by 1920 the AFL had nearly 4 million members.][
During World War I, the AFL - motivated by fear of government repression, and hope of aid (often in the form of pro-AFL labor policies) - had worked out an informal agreement with the United States government, in which the AFL would coordinate with the government both to support the war effort and to join "into an alliance to crush radical labor groups" such as the Industrial Workers of the World and Socialist Party of America.
In the pro-business environment of the 1920s, business launched a large-scale offensive on behalf of the so-called "open shop", which meant that a person did not have to be a union member to be hired. AFL unions lost membership steadily until 1933.
The organization endorsed pro-labor progressive Robert M. LaFollette in the 1924 presidential election. He only carried his home state of Wisconsin. The campaign failed to establish a permanent independent party closely connected to the labor movement, however, and thereafter the Federation embraced ever more closely the Democratic Party, despite the fact that many union leaders remained Republicans. Herbert Hoover in 1928 won the votes of many Protestant AFL members.
The Great Depression were hard times for the unions, and membership fell sharply across the country. As the national economy began to recover in 1933, so did union membership. The New Deal of president Franklin D. Roosevelt, a Democrat, strongly favored labor unions. He made sure that relief operations like the Civilian Conservation Corps did not include a training component that would produced skilled workers who would compete with union members in a still glutted market. The major legislation was the National Labor Relations Act of 1935, called the Wagner Act. It greatly strengthened organized unions, especially by weakening the company unions that many workers belonged to. It was to the members advantage to transform a company union into a local of an AFL union, and thousands did so, dramatically boosting the membership. The Wagner Act also set up to the National Labor Relations Board, which used its powers to rule in favor of unions and against the companies. However, the NLRB was later taken over by leftist elements who favored the CIO over the AFL.][
The AFL — now led by William Green (president, 1924–1952) — faced increasing dissension within its ranks, led by John L. Lewis of the coal miners. Lewis argued that the AFL was too heavily oriented toward traditional craftsmen, and was overlooking the opportunity to organize millions of semiskilled workers, especially those in industrial factories that made automobiles, rubber, glass and steel. In 1935 Lewis led the dissenting unions in forming a new Committee for Industrial Organization (CIO) within the AFL. Both the new CIO industrial unions, and the older AFL crafts unions grew rapidly after 1935. In 1936 union members enthusiastically supported Roosevelt's landslide reelection. Proposals for the creation of an independent labor party were rejected.
Unions now comprised a major component of the New Deal Coalition, along with big-city machines, Catholics and Jews, poorer farmers, and the white South. The AFL continued to concentrate its legislative efforts on obtaining political protection for the right of unions to organize and strike, rather than on obtaining social change through legislative action.][
The AFL retained close ties to the Democratic machines in big cities through the 1940s. Its membership surged during the war and it held on to most of its new members after wartime legal support for labor was removed. Despite its close connections to many in Congress, the AFL was not able to block the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.][
In 1955, the AFL and CIO merged to form the AFL-CIO, headed by George Meany][.
During its first years, the AFL admitted nearly anyone. Gompers opened the AFL to radical and socialist workers and to some semiskilled and unskilled workers. Women, African Americans, and immigrants joined in small numbers. But by the 1890s, the Federation had begun to organize only skilled workers in craft unions and became an organization of mostly white men. Although the Federation preached a policy of egalitarianism in regard to African American workers, it actively discriminated against black workers. The AFL sanctioned the maintenance of segregated locals within its affiliates — particularly in the construction and railroad industries — a practice which often excluded black workers altogether from union membership and thus from employment in organized industries.
In 1901, the AFL lobbied Congress to reauthorize the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act, and issued a pamphlet entitled "Some reasons for Chinese exclusion. Which shall survive?" The AFL also began one of the first organized labor boycotts when they began putting white stickers on the cigars made by unionized white cigar rollers while simultaneously discouraging consumers from purchasing cigars rolled by Chinese workers.
In most ways, the AFL’s treatment of women workers paralleled its policy towards black workers. The AFL never adopted a strict policy of gender exclusion and, at times, even came out in favor of women’s unionism. But despite such rhetoric, the Federation only half-heartedly supported women’s attempts to organize and, more often, took pains to keep women out of unions and the workforce altogether. Only two national unions affiliated with the AFL at its founding openly included women, and others passed by-laws barring women’s membership entirely. The AFL hired its first female organizer, Mary Kenney O'Sullivan, only in 1892, released her after five months, and it did not replace her or hire another woman national organizer until 1908. Women who organized their own unions were often turned down in bids to join the Federation, and even women who did join unions found them hostile or intentionally inaccessible. AFL unions often held meetings at night or in bars when women might find it difficult to attend and where they might feel uncomfortable, and male unionists heckled women who tried to speak at meetings.
Generally the AFL viewed women workers as competition, as strikebreakers, or as an unskilled labor reserve that kept wages low. As such, the Federation often opposed women’s employment entirely. When it did organize women workers, most often it did so to protect men’s jobs and earning power and not to improve the conditions, lives, or wages of women workers. In response, most women workers remained outside the labor movement. In 1900, only 3.3% of working women were organized into unions. In 1910, even as the AFL surged forward in membership, the number had dipped to 1.5%. And while it improved to 6.6% over the next decade, women remained mostly outside of unions and practically invisible inside of them into the mid-1920s.
Attitudes gradually changed within the AFL due to the pressure of organized female workers. Female-domination began to emerge in the first two decades of the 20th century, including particularly the International Ladies Garment Workers’ Union. Women organized independent locals among New York hat makers, in the Chicago stockyards, and among Jewish and Italian waist makers, to name only three examples. Through the efforts of middle class reformers and activists, often of the Women's Trade Union League, these unions joined the AFL.
From the beginning, unions affiliated with the AFL found themselves in conflict when both unions claimed jurisdiction over the same groups of workers: both the Brewers and Teamsters claimed to represent beer truck drivers, both the Machinists and the International Typographical Union claimed to represent certain printroom employees, and the Machinists and a fledgling union known as the "Carriage, Wagon and Automobile Workers Union" sought to organize the same employees — even though neither union had made any effort to organize or bargain for those employees. In some cases the AFL mediated the dispute, usually favoring the larger or more influential union. The AFL often reversed its jurisdictional rulings over time, as the continuing jurisdictional battles between the Brewers and the Teamsters showed. In other cases the AFL expelled the offending union, as it did in 1913 in the case of the Carriage, Wagon and Automobile Workers Union (which quickly disappeared).][
These jurisdictional disputes were most frequent in the building trades, where a number of different unions might claim the right to have work assigned to their members. The craft unions in this industry organized their own department within the AFL in 1908, despite the reservations of Gompers and other leaders about creation of a separate body within the AFL that might function as a federation within a federation. While those fears were partly borne out in practice, as the Building Trades Department did acquire a great deal of practical power gained through resolving jurisdictional disputes between affiliates, the danger that it might serve as the basis for schism never materialized.][
Affiliates within the AFL formed "departments" to help resolve these jurisdictional conflicts and to provide a more effective voice for member unions in given industries. The Metal Trades Department engaged in some organizing of its own, primarily in shipbuilding, where unions such as the Pipefitters, Machinists and Iron Workers joined together through local metal workers' councils to represent a diverse group of workers. The Railway Employees Department dealt with both jurisdictional disputes between affiliates and pursued a common legislative agenda for all of them. Even that sort of structure did not prevent AFL unions from finding themselves in conflict on political issues. For example, the International Seamen's Union opposed passage of a law applying to workers engaged in interstate transport that railway unions supported. The AFL bridged these differences on an ad hoc basis.][
The AFL made efforts in its early years to assist its affiliates in organizing: it advanced funds or provided organizers or, in some cases, such as the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, the Teamsters and the American Federation of Musicians, helped form the union. The AFL also used its influence (including refusal of charters or expulsion) to heal splits within affiliated unions, to force separate unions seeking to represent the same or closely related jurisdictions to merge, or to mediate disputes between rival factions where both sides claimed to represent the leadership of an affiliated union. The AFL also chartered "federal unions" — local unions not affiliated with any international union — in those fields in which no affiliate claimed jurisdiction.][
The AFL also encouraged the formation of local labor bodies (known as central labor councils) in major metropolitan areas in which all of the affiliates could participate. These local labor councils acquired a great deal of influence in some cases. For example, the Chicago Federation of Labor spearheaded efforts to organize packinghouse and steel workers during and immediately after World War I. Local building trades councils also became powerful in some areas. In San Francisco, the local Building Trades Council, led by Carpenters official P. H. McCarthy, not only dominated the local labor council but helped elect McCarthy mayor of San Francisco in 1909. In a very few cases early in the AFL's history, state and local bodies defied AFL policy or chose to disaffiliate over policy disputes.][
Though Gompers had contact with socialists and such as AFL co-founder Peter J. McGuire, the AFL adopted a philosophy of "business unionism" that emphasized unions' contribution to businesses' profits and national economic growth. The business unionist approach also focused on skilled workers' immediate job-related interests, while ignoring larger political issues.][. This approach was set by Gompers, who was influenced by a fellow cigar maker (and former socialist) Ferdinand Laurrel. Despite his socialist contacts, Gompers himself was not a socialist.][
In some respects the AFL leadership took a pragmatic view toward politicians, following Gompers' slogan to "reward your friends and punish your enemies" without regard to party affiliation. Over time, after repeated disappointments with the failure of labor's legislative efforts to protect workers' rights, which the courts had struck down as unconstitutional, Gompers became almost anti-political, opposing some forms of protective legislation, such as limitations on working hours, because they would detract from the efforts of unions to obtain those same benefits through collective bargaining.][
Employers discovered the efficacy of labor injunctions, first used with great effect by the Cleveland administration during the Pullman strike in 1894. While the AFL sought to outlaw "yellow dog contracts," to limit the courts' power to impose "government by injunction" and to obtain exemption from the antitrust laws that were being used to criminalize labor organizing, the courts reversed what few legislative successes the labor movement won.][
The AFL concentrated its political efforts during the last decades of the Gompers administration on securing freedom from state control of unions — in particular an end to the court's use of labor injunctions to block the right to organize or strike and the application of the anti-trust laws to criminalize labor's use of pickets, boycotts and strikes. The AFL thought that it had achieved the latter with the passage of the Clayton Antitrust Act in 1914 — which Gompers referred to as "Labor's Magna Carta". But in Duplex Printing Press Co. v. Deering, 254 U.S. 443 (1921), the United States Supreme Court narrowly read the Act and codified the federal courts' existing power to issue injunctions rather than limit it. The court read the phrase "between an employer and employees" (contained in the first paragraph of the Act) to refer only to cases involving an employer and its own employees, leaving the courts free to punish unions for engaging in sympathy strikes or secondary boycotts.][
The AFL's pessimistic attitude towards politics did not, on the other hand, prevent affiliated unions from pursuing their own agendas. Construction unions supported legislation that governed entry of contractors into the industry and protected workers' rights to pay, rail and mass production industries sought workplace safety legislation, and unions generally agitated for the passage of workers' compensation statutes.][
At the same time, the AFL took efforts on behalf of women in supporting protective legislation. It advocated fewer hours for women workers, and based its arguments on assumptions of female weakness. Like efforts to unionize, most support for protective legislation for women came out of a desire to protect men’s jobs. If women’s hours could be limited, reasoned AFL officials, they would infringe less on male employment and earning potential. But the AFL also took more selfless efforts. Even from the 1890s, the AFL declared itself vigorously in favor of women’s suffrage. It often printed pro-suffrage articles in its periodical, and in 1918, it supported the National Union of Women’s Suffrage.
The AFL relaxed its rigid stand against legislation after the death of Gompers. Even so, it remained cautious. Its proposals for unemployment benefits (made in the late 1920s) were too modest to have practical value, as the Great Depression soon showed. The impetus for the major federal labor laws of the 1930s came from the New Deal. The enormous growth in union membership came after Congress passed the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933 and National Labor Relations Act in 1935. The AFL refused to sanction or participate in the mass strikes led by John L. Lewis of the United Mine Workers and other left unions such as the Amalgamated Clothing Workers of America. After the AFL expelled the CIO in 1936, the CIO undertook a major organizing effort. The AFL responded with its own massive organizing drive that kept its membership totals 50 percent higher than the CIO's.][
National Labor Union
United States labor law is the body of law that mediates the rights and duties of workers, employers and labor unions in the United States of America. Federal laws, such as the Fair Labor Standards Act, the National Labor Relations Act and the Occupational Safety and Health Act set the standards that govern workers' rights to organize in the private sector, and override most state and local laws. Usually more limited rights for employees of the federal government, but not state or local governments, where workers derive their rights from state law. Federal and state laws protect workers from employment discrimination, on grounds of race, gender, religion, national origin and age. Federal law preempts most state statutes that would bar employers from discriminating against employees to prevent them from obtaining pensions or other benefits or retaliating against them for asserting those rights.
In 1941, Executive Order 8802 (or the Fair Employment Act) became the first law to prohibit racial discrimination, although it only applied to the national defense industry. Later laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (and amendments), Title I of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the Family and Medical Leave Act of 1993, and numerous state laws with additional protections. The Fair Labor Standards Act regulates minimum wages and overtime pay for certain employees who work more than 40 hours in a work week.
While working an employee must work a minimum of two hours in a day. Cases of employment discrimination in the United States are most often subject to the jurisdiction of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal commission responsible for the enforcement of the anti-discrimination laws. Once a case has been filed with the EEOC or similar state agencies with concurrent jurisdiction, employees have a right to remove the case to the courts with the permission of the agency, or in some instances, after the expiration of a set time period. Employment law cases are heard in state or federal courts, depending upon the issue, the size of the employer (the Civil Rights Act of 1964, for example, applies only to employers with 15 or more employees), and the litigation strategy of the plaintiff.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (FLSA) establishes minimum wage and overtime rights for most private sector workers, with a number of exemptions and exceptions. Congress amended the Act in 1974 to cover governmental employees, leading to a series of United States Supreme Court decisions in which the Court first held that the law was unconstitutional, then reversed itself to permit the FLSA to cover governmental employees.
The FLSA does not preempt state and local governments from providing greater protections under their own laws. A number of states have enacted higher minimum wages and extended their laws to cover workers who are excluded under the FLSA or to provide rights that federal law ignores.
Local governments have also adopted a number of "living wage" laws that require those employers that contract with them to pay higher minimum wages and benefits to their employees. The federal government, along with many state governments, likewise require employers to pay the prevailing wage, which typically reflects the standards established by unions' collective bargaining agreements in the area, to workers on public works projects.
The Employee Retirement Income Security Act establishes standards for the funding and operation of pension and health care plans provided by employers to their employees. The ERISA preempts most state legislation that attempts to regulate how such plans are administered and, to a great extent, what types of health care coverage they provide. ERISA also preempts state law claims that an employer discriminated against employees in order to prevent them from obtaining the benefits they would have earned otherwise or to retaliate against them for asserting their rights.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act, signed into law in 1970 by President Richard Nixon, creates specific standards for workplace safety. The Act has spawned years of litigation by industry groups that have challenged the standards limiting the amount of permitted exposure to chemicals such as benzene. The Act also provides for protection for "whistleblowers" who complain to governmental authorities about unsafe conditions while allowing workers the right to refuse to work under unsafe conditions in certain circumstances. The Act allows states to take over the administration of OSHA in their jurisdictions, so long as they adopt state laws at least as protective of workers' rights as under federal law. More than half of the states have done so.
The Family and Medical Leave Act, passed in 1993, requires employers to provide workers with twelve weeks of unpaid medical leave and continuing medical benefit coverage in order to attend to certain medical conditions of close relatives or themselves. Many states have comparable statutory provisions; some states have offered greater protections.
Contrary to popular intent, the Sherman Antitrust Act (1890) led to prosecution of unions as illegal combinations, but Section 6 of the Clayton Antitrust Act (1914) ended this practice by stipulating that unions shall not be "construed to be illegal combinations or conspiracies in restraint of trade, under the antitrust laws." The National Labor Relations Act gave a general right to organize in a trade union and collectively bargain.
The Taft-Hartley Act (also the "Labor-Management Relations Act"), passed in 1947, loosened some of the restrictions on employers, changed NLRB election procedures, and added a number of new limitations on unions. The Act, among other things, prohibits jurisdictional strikes and secondary boycotts by unions, and authorizes individual states to pass "right-to-work laws", regulates pension and other benefit plans established by unions and provides that federal courts have jurisdiction to enforce collective bargaining agreements.
The United States Congress has not yet ratified the International Labour Organization Convention on the Freedom of Association and Protection of the Right to Organise Convention, 1948 or the Right to Organise and Collective Bargaining Convention, 1949.
The United States Congress subsequently tightened those restrictions on unions in the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959, which also regulates the internal affairs of all private sector unions, providing for minimum standards for unions' internal disciplinary proceedings, federal oversight for unions' elections of their own officers, and fiduciary standards for union officers' use of union funds.
The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, the "Wagner Act") gives private sector workers the right to choose whether they wish to be represented by a union and establishes the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold elections for that purpose. As originally enacted in 1935, the NLRA makes it illegal for employers to discriminate against workers because of their union membership or retaliate against them for engaging in organizing campaigns or other "concerted activities", to form "company unions", or to refuse to engage in collective bargaining with the union that represents their employees. The NLRA does not cover governmental employees, with the exception of employees of the United States Postal Service, a quasi-public entity. The Federal Labor Relations Act provides for much more limited rights for employees of the federal government. Congress has excluded workers in the United States Department of Homeland Security and elsewhere from even these limited protections. In order to keep up with the most recent versions to be in compliance with federal labor law, employees could get more detailed information by reading the federal labor law poster, which is required to be posted in the company.
Federal law does not provide employees of state and local governments with the right to organize or engage in union activities, except to the extent that the United States Constitution protects their rights to freedom of speech and freedom of association. The Constitution provides even less protection for governmental employees' right to engage in collective bargaining: while it bars public employers from retaliating against employees for forming a union, it does not require those employers to recognize that union, much less bargain with it. Most states provide public employees with limited statutory protections; a few permit public employees to strike in support of their demands in some circumstances. Some states, however, particularly in the South, make it illegal for a governmental entity to enter into a collective bargaining agreement with a union.
The NLRA does not cover agricultural or domestic employees. A few states have enacted labor laws similar to the NLRA covering farm workers. Finally, the NLRA does not cover employees in the railroad and airline industries. Those workers are covered by the Railway Labor Act, first passed in 1926, then amended in 1936 to cover airline employees. The RLA creates a wholly different structure for resolving labor disputes, requiring bargaining under indirect governmental supervision and permitting strikes only in limited circumstances.
"Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all of such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 158 (a)(3) of this title."
Congress has since expanded the NLRB's jurisdiction to health care institutions, with unique rules governing organizing and strikes against those employers.
For the most part the NLRA and RLA displace state laws that attempt to regulate the right to organize, to strike and to engage in collective bargaining. The NLRB has exclusive jurisdiction to determine whether an employer has engaged in an unfair labor practice and to decide what remedies should be provided. States and local governments can, on the other hand, impose requirements when acting as market participants, such as requiring that all contractors sign a project labor agreement to avoid strikes when building a public works project, that they could not if they were attempting to regulate those employers' labor relations directly.
"Nothing in this subchapter, except as specifically provided for herein, shall be construed so as either to interfere with or impede or diminish in any way the right to strike, or to affect the limitations or qualifications on that right."
The Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 outlawed the issuance of injunctions in labor disputes by federal courts. While the Act does not prevent state courts from issuing injunctions, it ended what some observers called "government by injunction", in which the federal courts used injunctions to prevent unions from striking, organizing and, in some cases, even talking to workers or entering certain parts of a state. Roughly half the states have enacted their own version of the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
While Congress passed laws barring racial discrimination by private employers in 1866 with the Civil Rights Act of 1866, the Supreme Court's decision in the Civil Rights Cases made that Act a dead letter for nearly a century. Congress adopted limited prohibitions against racial discrimination by defense contractors during World War II, but no general prohibition against employment discrimination until it passed Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which bars employment discrimination on the basis of race, gender, national origin and religion.
Congress amended that Act in 1972 to cover governmental employers, in 1981 to outlaw employment discrimination on the basis of pregnancy, and again in the Civil Rights Act of 1991 to overturn a number of decisions by the Supreme Court limiting employees' rights.
Congress has also protected the rights of workers over forty years of age in the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, passed in 1967, and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986 also provides narrow prohibitions against certain types of employment discrimination based on immigration status.
Title VII encourages states to pass their own anti-discrimination laws; most states outside the South have done so. A number of states and local governments have also enacted statutes that expand on the rights that federal law offers, either by offering greater remedies or broader protections, or have legislated in areas that federal law does not cover, such as discrimination based on sexual orientation or marital status.
The states and the federal government have also enacted a welter of laws to protect whistleblowers; these statutes vary widely in what conduct is protected, what procedures must be followed to enforce the law and what remedies are provided. Public sector employees are also protected from retaliation by their employers for some forms of whistleblowing activities by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.
Many state and federal laws presume workers who are not covered by a collective bargaining agreement or an individual employment agreement have "at-will employment". This is a policy that employees' may be dismissed without notice and for no stated reason. However state and federal laws prohibiting discrimination or protecting the right to organize or engage in whistleblowing activities modify that rule by providing that discharge or other forms of discrimination are illegal if undertaken on grounds specifically prohibited by law. An employment relationship could be terminated by either party at any time without a reason. Starting in 1941, a series of laws prohibited certain discriminatory firings. That is, in most states, absent an express contractual provision to the contrary, an employer can still fire an employee for no or any reason, as long as it is not a reason in violation of public policy.
A number of states have modified the general rule that employment is at will by holding that employees may, under that state's common law, have implied contract rights to fair treatment by their employers. US private-sector employees thus do not have the indefinite contracts (similar to US academic tenure) traditionally common in many European countries, Canada and New Zealand.
Public employees in both federal and state government are also typically covered by civil service systems that protect them from unjust discharge. Public employees who have enough rights against unjustified discharge by their employers may also acquire a property right in their jobs, which entitles them in turn to additional protections under the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, better known by its acronym as the WARN Act, requires private sector employers to give sixty days' notice of large-scale layoffs and plant closures; it allows a number of exceptions for unforeseen emergencies and other cases. Several states have adopted more stringent requirements of their own.
Nineteen states that have legislation that prevents trade unions from signing collective agreements with employers requiring employees pay fees to the union when they are not members (frequently called "right-to-work" laws by their political proponents). These are Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Nebraska, Nevada, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and Wyoming. In addition, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Mississippi, and Oklahoma have the right to not support a union enacted in their constitutions. The territory of Guam also has an equivalent law.
In 2010, the organization "Save Our Secret Ballot" pushed four states: Arizona, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah to pass constitutional amendments to ban Card check.
In 1959, California added the Division of Fair Employment Practices to the California Department of Industrial Relations. The Fair Employment and Housing Act of 1980 gave the division its own Department of Fair Employment and Housing, with the stated purpose of protecting citizens against harassment and employment discrimination on the basis of: age, ancestry, color, creed, denial of family and medical care leave, disability (including HIV/AIDS), marital status, medical condition, national origin, race, religion, sex, transgender and orientation. Sexual orientation was not specifically included in the original law but precedent was established based on case law. On October 9, 2011, California Governor Edmund G. "Jerry" Brown signed into law Assembly Bill No. 887 alters the meaning of gender for the purposes of discrimination laws that define sex as including gender so that California law now prohibits discrimination on the basis of gender identity and gender expression.
The state also has its own labor law covering agricultural workers, the California Agricultural Labor Relations Act.
National Labor Relations Board
The National Labor Union (NLU) was the first national labor federation in the United States. Founded in 1866 and dissolved in 1873, it paved the way for other organizations, such as the Knights of Labor and the AFL (American Federation of Labor). It was led by William H. Sylvis. The National Labor Union followed the unsuccessful efforts of labor activists to form a national coalition of local trade unions. The National Labor Union sought instead to bring together all of the national labor organizations in existence, as well as the "eight-hour leagues" established to press for the eight-hour day, to create a national federation that could press for labor reforms and help found national cherokee union in those areas where none existed. The new organization favored arbitration over strikes and called for the creation of a national labor party as an alternative to the two existing parties.
The NLU drew much of its support from construction unions and other groups of skilled employees, but also invited the unskilled and farmers to join. On the other hand, it campaigned for the exclusion of Chinese workers from the United States and made only halting, ineffective efforts to defend the rights of women and blacks. African-American workers established their own Colored National Labor Union as an adjunct, but their support of the Republican Party and the prevalent racism of the citizens of the United States limited its effectiveness.
The NLU achieved an early success, but one that proved less significant in practice. In 1868, Congress passed the statute for which the Union had campaigned so hard, providing the eight-hour day for government workers. Many government agencies, however, reduced wages at the same time that they reduced hours. While President Grant ordered federal departments not to reduce wages, his order was ignored by many. The NLU also obtained similar legislation in a number of states, such as New York and California, but discovered that loopholes in the statute made them unenforceable or ineffective.
Early in 1869, the Chicago Tribune boasted 800,000 members, however Sylvis himself put the figure at 600,000 although both of these figures were greatly exaggerated. It collapsed when it adopted the policy that electoral politics, with a particular emphasis on monetary reform][, were the only means for advancing its agenda. The organization was spectacularly unsuccessful at the polls and lost virtually all of its union supporters, many of whom moved on to the newly formed Knights of Labor. The depression of the 1870s, which drove down union membership generally, was the final factor contributing to the end of the NLU.
Australian Labor Party
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) is an independent agency of the United States government charged with conducting elections for labor union representation and with investigating and remedying unfair labor practices. Unfair labor practices may involve union-related situations or instances of protected concerted activity. The NLRB is governed by a five-person board and a General Counsel, all of whom are appointed by the President with the consent of the Senate. Board members are appointed to five-year terms and the General Counsel is appointed to a four-year term. The General Counsel acts as a prosecutor and the Board acts as an appellate judicial body from decisions of administrative law judges.
As of 2013, the NLRB is located at 1099 14th Street NW, Washington, D.C.
The history of the NLRB can be traced to enactment of the National Industrial Recovery Act in 1933. Section 7(a) of the act protected collective bargaining rights for unions, but implementation proved immensely problematic as a massive wave of union organizing punctuated by employer and union violence, general strikes, and recognition strikes occurred. The National Industrial Recovery Act was administered by the National Recovery Administration (NRA). At the outset, NRA Administrator Hugh Johnson naïvely believed that Section 7(a) would be self-enforcing, but the tremendous labor unrest proved him wrong. On August 5, 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt announced the establishment of the National Labor Board under the auspices of the NRA to implement the collective bargaining provisions of Section 7(a).
The National Labor Board (NLB) established a system of 20 regional boards to handle the immense caseload. There were 20 regional boards. Each had a representative designated by local labor unions, local employers, and a "public" representative. All were unpaid. The public representative acted as the chair. The regional boards could hold hearings and propose settlements to disputes. Initially, they lacked authority to order representation elections, but this changed after Roosevelt issued additional executive orders on February 1 and February 23, 1934.
The NLB, too, proved ineffective. Congress passed Public Resolution No. 44 on June 19, 1934, which empowered the president to appoint a new labor board with authority to issue subpoenas, the power to hold elections, and the ability to mediate in labor disputes. On June 29, President Roosevelt abolished the NLB and in Executive Order 6763 established a new, three-member National Labor Relations Board.
Lloyd K. Garrison was the first chair of the National Labor Relations Board (often referred to by scholars the "First NLRB" or "Old NLRB"). In its brief existence, the "First NLRB" established organizational structures which still remain in place at the NLRB in the 21st century. This includes the regional structure of the board; the use of administrative law judges and regional hearing officers to initially rule on cases; an appeal process to the national board; and the use of expert staff, organized into various divisions, at the national level. Formally, Garrison established the:
Within a year, however, most of the jurisdiction of the "First NLRB" was stripped away. Its decisions in the automobile, newspaper, textile, and steel industry proved so volatile that Roosevelt himself often removed these cases from the board's jurisdiction. Several federal court decisions further limited the board's power. Senator Robert F. Wagner (D- NY) subsequently pushed legislation through Congress to give a statutory basis to federal labor policy that would survive court scrutiny. On July 5, 1935, a new law—the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA, also known as the Wagner Act)—superseded the NIRA and established a new, long-lasting federal labor policy. The NLRA designated the National Labor Relations Board as the implementing agency.
The first chair of the "new" NLRB was J. Warren Madden, Dean of the University of Pittsburgh School of Law. Madden largely confirmed the previous structure of the "first NLRB" by formally establishing five divisions within the agency:
Benedict Wolf was the first Secretary of the NLRB, Charles H. Fahy the first General Counsel, and David J. Saposs the first Chief Industrial Economist. Wolf resigned in mid-1937, and Nathan Witt, an attorney in the Legal Division, was named Secretary in October.
The Economic Division was a critical one for the NLRB. Cause-and-effect was one of the fundamental assumptions of the National Labor Relations Act, and for the causes of labor unrest to be understood economic analysis was needed. From the start, the Economic Division undertook three important tasks: 1) Gather economic data in support of cases before the courts; 2) Conduct general studies of labor relations to guide the board in formulating decisions and policies; and 3) Research the history of labor relations (the history of written agreements, whether certain issues were historically part of collective bargaining, how unions functioned internally, trends in employer activities, trends in collective bargaining, whether certain employer actions led to labor disputes, etc.) so that the board could educate itself, the courts, Congress, and the public about labor relations. The first function proved critical to the survival of the NLRB. It was the Economic Division's data and analysis, more than then NLRB's legal reasoning, which proved critical in persuading the Supreme Court to sustain the Wagner Act in NLRB v. Jones & Laughlin Steel. The Court even cited several Economic Division studies in its decision. In the wake of Jones & Laughlin Steel, many labor relations experts outside the agency concluded that economic analysis was "an accepted fact" essential to the proper functioning of the agency. The Economic Division did, too. It asked Madden to pair an economist with an attorney in every important case, and prepared outline of the econmic data needed to support each case in case it went before the courts.
During his time on the NLRB, Madden was often opposed by the American Federation of Labor (AFL), which believed that Madden was using the NLRA and the procedures and staff of the NLRB to favor the AFL's primary competitor, the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO). The NLRB and NLRA were also under intense pressure from employers, the press, congressional Republicans, and conservative Democrats.
The NLRB's Economic Division proved critical in pushing for a congressional investigation into employer anti-union activities, and ensuring that investigation was a success. The Economic Division was deeply aware of employer use of labor spies, violence, and company unions to thwart union organizing, and quietly pressed for a congressional investigation into these and other tactics. Senator Robert M. La Follette, Jr. took up the suggestion, on June 6, 1936, the Senate Committee on Education and Labor established a Subcommittee Investigating Violations of Free Speech and the Rights of Labor chaired by La Follette. Better known as the "La Follette Committee", the subcommittee held extensive hearings for five years and published numerous reports. The committee uncovered extensive evidence of millions of company dollars used to pay for spies and fifth columnists within unions, exposed the culpability of local law enforcement in acts of violence and murder against union supporters (particularly in the Harlan County War), revealed the wide extent of illegal blacklisting of union members, and exposed the use of armed strikebreakers and widespread stockpiling of tear gas, vomit gas, machine guns, mortars, and armor by corporations to use against strikers. Some of the evidence the committee used was provided by the Economic Division, and the investigation proved critical for a time in defending the agency from business and congressional attack.
The biggest issue the NLRB faced was constitutional. The Justice Department and NLRB legal staff wanted the Supreme Court to rule as quickly as possible on the constitutionality of the NLRA. But the Board and Justice Department also realized that the Court's eraLochner legal philosophy made it unlikely that the Court would uphold the Act. Subsequently, Madden strove to resolve minor cases before they could become court challenges, and worked to delay appeals as long as possible until the best possible case could be brought to the Court. This legal strategy paid off. The Supreme Court upheld the NLRA in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corporation, 301 U.S. 1 (1937). Afterward, Madden continued to strategically guide the NLRB's legal efforts to strengthen the federal courts' view of the NLRA and the board's actions. Because of the efforts of Madden and NLRB General Counsel Charles H. Fahy, the Supreme Court reviewed only 27 cases between August 1935 and March 1941, even though the board had processed nearly than 5,000 cases since its inception. The Supreme Court enforced the NLRB's rulings in 19 cases without modifying them, enforced them with modification in six more, and denied enforcement in two cases. Additionally, the Board won all 30 injunction and all 16 representation cases before the lower courts, a rate of success unequalled by any other federal agency.
AFL opposition to the "Madden Board" grew after decisions in Shipowners' Ass'n of the Pacific Coast, 7 NLRB 1002 (1938), enf'd American Federation of Labor v. National Labor Relations Board, 308 U.S. 401 (1940) (awarding a longshoremen's unit to the CIO rather than the AFL), and American Can Co., 13 NLRB 1252 (1939) (unit's history of collective bargaining outweighs desire of workers to form craft-only unit).
The AFL began pushing for an investigation into the NLRB, and this investigation led to allegations of communist influence within the agency. In June 1938, the House Un-American Activities Committee (led by Chairman Martin Dies, Jr. [D-TX]) heard testimony from AFL leader John P. Frey, who accused Madden of staffing the NLRB with communists. The allegations were true, in at least one case: Nathan Witt, the NLRB's executive secretary and the man to whom Madden had delegated most administrative functions, was a member of the Communist Party of the United States. These allegations and discoveries significantly damaged the agency's support in Congress and with the public.
A second investigation into the NLRB led to organizational changes at the board. On July 20, 1939, Republicans and conservative Democrats formed a coalition to push through the House of Representatives a resolution establishing a Special Committee to Investigate the National Labor Relations Board (the "Smith Committee"), chaired by conservative, anti-labor Rep. Howard W. Smith (D-VA). On March 7, 1940, the Smith Committee proposed legislation which would abolish the NLRB, reconstitute it, and radically amend the NLRA. President Roosevelt opposed the bill, although he conceded that perhaps the Board's membership should be expanded to five from three. The Smith bill won several early tests in the House, which also voted to substantially cut the NLRB's budget. Smith won a vote in the House Rules Committee permitting him to bring his bill to the floor for a vote. In an attempt to defuse the legislative crisis, Madden fired 53 staff and forced another five to resign, and decentralized the NLRB's trial process to give regional directors and field agents more authority. But the House still passed the Smith bill by a vote of 258 to 129 on June 7, 1940. To protect the NLRB, Roosevelt convinced Senator Elbert D. Thomas, chair of the Senate Committee on Education and Labor, to hold no hearings or votes on the bill, and the legislation died.
The Smith Committee investigation had a lasting effect on labor law in the U.S., and was the basis for the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947.
Madden's term on the NLRB came to an end after just four years. On November 15, 1940, President Roosevelt nominated Harry A. Millis to the NLRB and named him chair, and nominated Madden to a seat on the U.S. Court of Claims.
Another major structural change occurred at the same time that Madden left the NLRB. The Smith committee's anti-communist drive also targeted David J. Sapoos, the NLRB Chief Industrial Economist. Saposs had been surreptitiously assessed by members of the Communist Party USA for membership, and rejected as a prospect. But Smith and others attacked Saposs as a communist, and Congress defunded his division and his job on October 11, 1940. Although the Smith committee's investigation proved critical, the disestablishment of the Economic Division was due to many reasons—both internal and external to the NLRB, and only some of which involved allegations of communist infilatration. As historian James A. Gross points observes:
The Division was eliminated for all kinds of reasons which had nothing to do with themerits and importance of its work: political pressures and maneuverings, jealousy and empire building between and among laywers and economicsts inside the Board, opposition to leftist ideologies, a personal attack on the Chief Economist, David Saposs, and a mighty hostility to the administrative process.
The loss of the Economic Division was a major blow to the NLRB. It had a major tactical impact: Economic data helped the NLRB fulfill its adjudicatorial and prosecutorial work in areas such as unfair labor practices (ULPs), representation elections, and in determing remedial actions (such as reinstatement, back pay awards, and fines). Economic data also undermined employer resistance to the agency by linking that opposition to employer ULPs. The loss also left the board dependent on the biased information offered by the parties in dispute before it, leading to poor decision-making and far less success in the courts. It also had a major strategic impact: It left board unable to determine whether its administration of the law was effective or not. Nor could the board determine whether labor unrest was a serious threat to the economy or not. As labor historian Josiah Bartlett Lambert put it: "Without the Economic Research Division, the NLRB could not undertake empirical studies to determine the actual impact of secondary boycotts, jurisdictional strikes, national emergency strikes, and the like." The Economic Division was critical to a long-range NLRB process that would lead to the long-term evolution of industrial labor relations in the U.S., but that goal had to be abandoned. Most importantly, however, the evisceration of the Economic Division struck at the fundamental purpose of federal labor law, which was to allow experts to adjudicate labor disputes rather than use a legal process. With this data and analysis, widespread skepticism about the baord's expertise quickly spread through Congress and the courts. It also left the board largely unable to engage in rule-making, forcing it to make labor law on an inefficient, time-consuming case-by-case basis. (As of 1981, NLRB was still the only federal agency forbidden to seek economic information about the impact of its activities.)
The second chair of the NLRB, Harry A. Millis, led the board in a much more moderate direction. Lacking an economic division to give it ammunition to fight with Millis deliberately made the NLRB dependent on Congress and the executive branch for its survival.
Millis also made a large number of organizational changes. He stripped the office of Secretary of its power, set up an Administrative Division to supervise the 22 regional offices, initiated a study of the Board's administrative procedures, and genuinely delegated power to the regional offices. He also removed casehandling and regional office communication from the jurisdiction of the Office of the Secretary and created a Field Division. He also adopted procedures requiring the board made its decisions based solely on the trial examiner's report, authorized NLRB review attorneys to review trial examiner report, required decisions to be drafted ahead of time and distributed for review, authorized review attorneys to revise drafts before a final decision was issued, required trial examiners to emphasize findings of fact and to address points of law, and began holding board meetings when there were differences of opinion over decisions. He also eliminated the Review Division's decisive role in cases, which had been established under Madden and Witt. Madden and Witt had adopted a highly centralized Board structure so that (generally speaking) only the cases most favorable to the board made it to the courts. The centralized structure meant that only the strongest cases made it to national board, so that the board could apply all its economic and legal powers to crafting the best decision possible. This strategy enabled the NLRB to defend itself very well before the Supreme Court. But Madden and Witt had held on to the centralized strategy too long, and made political enemies in the process. Millis substituted a decentralized process in which the board was less a decision-maker and more a provider of services to the regions. Many of the changes Millis instituted were designed to mimic requirements placed on other agencies by the Administrative Procedure Act.
American entry into World War II on December 8, 1941, significantly changed the NLRB. On January 12, 1942, President Roosevelt created the National War Labor Board (NWLB), which displaced the NLRB as the main focus of federal labor relations for the duration of the war. The NWLB was given the authority to "finally determine" any labor dispute which threatened to interrupt war production, and to stabilize union wages and benefits during the war. Although Roosevelt instructed the NWLB not to intrude on jurisdiction exercised by the NLRB, the War Labor Board refused to honor this request. From 1942 to 1945, Millis tried to secure a jurisdictional agreement with NWLB chair George W. Taylor. But these discussions proved fruitless, and Millis broke them off in June 1945. The NWLB also heavily raided the NLRB for staff, significantly hindering NLRB operations.
Additional changes came with the passage of the War Labor Disputes Act (WLDA) on June 25, 1943. Enacted over Roosevelt's veto after 400,000 coal miners, their wages significantly lower due to high wartime inflation, struck for a $2-a-day wage increase, the legislation (in part) required the NLRB to issue a ballot outlining all the collective bargaining proposals and counter-proposals, wait 30 days, and then hold a strike vote. The War Labor Disputes Act proved very burdensome. The NLRB processed 2,000 WLDA cases from 1943 to the end of 1945, of which 500 were strike votes. The act's strike vote procedures did little to stop strikes, however, and Millis feared unions were using the referendums to whip up pro-strike feelings among their members. Millis also believed the law's strike vote process actually permitted more strikes to occur than the NLRB would have allowed under its old procedures. There were so many strike vote filings in the six months after the war ended that NLRB actually shut down its long distance telephone lines, cancelled all out of town travel, suspended all public hearings, and suspended all other business to accommodate the workload.
By early 1945, Millis was in ill health. He resigned from the NLRB on June 7, 1945, and Paul M. Herzog was named his successor.
A major turning point in the history of the NLRB came in 1947 with passage of the Taft-Hartley Act.
Disruptions caused by strikes during World War II as well as the huge wave of strikes the followed the end of the war fueled a growing movement in 1946 and 1947 to amend the NLRA to correct what critics saw as a pro-labor tilt in federal law. Drafted by the powerful Republican Senator Robert Taft and the strongly anti-union Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr., the Taft-Hartley Act banned jurisdictional strikes, wildcat strikes, political strikes, secondary boycotts, secondary picketing, mass picketing, union campaign donations made from dues money, the closed shop, and unions of supervisors. The act also enumerated new employer rights, defined union-committed ULPs, gave states the right to opt out of federal labor law through right-to-work laws, required unions to give an 80-strike notice in all cases, established procedures for the president to end a strike in a national emergency, and required all union officials to sign an anti-communist oath. Organizationally, the act made the General Counsel a presidential appointee, independent of the board itself, and gave the General Counsel limited powers to seek injunctions without referring to the Justice Department. It also banned the NLRB from engaging in any mediation or conciliation, and formally enshrined in law the ban on hiring personnel to do economic data collection or analysis.
Herzog publicly admitted the need for some change in the NLRA, but privately he opposed the proposed Taft-Hartley amendments. He felt the communist oath provisions were unconstitutional, that the amendments would turn the NLRA into a management weapon, that creation of an independent General Counsel would weaken the NLRB, and that the law's dismantling of the agency's economic analysis unit deprived the NLRB of essential expertise. Nonetheless, Congress overrode Truman's veto of the Taft-Hartley Act on June 23, 1947, and the bill became law.
The Taft-Hartley Act fundamentally changed the nature of federal labor law, but it also seriously hindered the NLRB's ability to enforce the law. The loss of the mediation function left the NLRB unable to become involved in labor disputes, a function it had engaged in since its inception as the National Labor Board in 1933. This hindered the agency's efforts to study, analyze, and create bulwarks against bad-faith collective bargaining; reduced its ability to formulate national labor policy in this area; and left the agency making labor law on an ineffective, time-consuming case-by-case basis. The separation of the General Counsel from supervision by the national board also had significant impact on the agency. This separation was enacted against the advice of the Justice Department, contradicted the policy Congress had enacted in the Administrative Procedure Act of 1946, and ignored Millis' extensive internal reforms. The change left the NLRB as the only federal agency unable to coordinate its decision-making and legal activities, and the only agency exempted in this manner under the Administrative Procedure Act. Interestingly, the separation of the General Counsel was not discussed by the committee or by any witnesses during the legislation's mark-up. Indeed, there was no basis for it at all in the public record. It was, in the words of sociologist Robin Stryker, "little-noted" and "unprecedented".
The anti-communist oath provisions generated extensive public debate, and generated disputes before the Supreme Court several times. The Taft-Hartley oath first reached the court in American Communications Association v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382 (1950), in which the court held 5-to-1 that the oath did not violate the First Amendment, was not an ex post facto law or bill of attainder in violation of Article One, Section 10, and was not a "test oath" in violation of Article Six. The issue again came before the court in Garner v. Board of Public Works, 341 U.S. 716 (1951), in which the court unanimously held that a municipal loyalty oath was not an ex post facto law or bill of attainder. It came before the court yet a third time in Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 (1952). This time, the outcome was radically different. The Supreme Court unanimously ruled that state loyalty oath legislation violated the due process clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. In 1965, the Supreme Court held 5-to-4 that the anti-communist oath was, in fact, a bill of attainder in United States v. Brown, 381 U.S. 437 (1965). The Supreme Court essentially overturned Douds, but did not formally do so.
In 1947, the Taft–Hartley Act created a formal administrative distinction between the Board and the General Counsel of the NLRB. In broad terms, the General Counsel is responsible for investigating and prosecuting unfair labor practice claims; the Board, on the other hand, is the adjudicative body that decides the unfair labor practice cases brought to it. While the General Counsel has limited independence to argue for a change in the law in presenting cases to the Board, once the Board has decided the issue it is the General Counsel's responsibility to uphold the Board's decision, even if it is contrary to the position he advocated when presenting the case to the Board. The Board is also responsible for the administration of the Act's provisions governing the holding of elections and resolution of jurisdictional disputes.
The General Counsel oversees four divisions: the Division of Operations Management, the Division of Administration, the Division of Advice, and the Division of Enforcement Litigation.
The Board has more than thirty regional offices. The regional offices conduct elections, investigate unfair labor practice charges, and make the initial determination on those charges (whether to dismiss, settle, or issue complaints). The Board has jurisdiction to hold elections and prosecute violations of the Act in Puerto Rico and American Samoa.
The Board's jurisdiction is limited to private sector employees and the United States Postal Service; other than Postal Service employees, it has no authority over labor relations disputes involving governmental, railroad and airline employees covered by the Adamson Railway Labor Act, or agricultural employees. On the other hand, in those parts of the private sector its jurisdictional standards are low enough to reach almost all employers whose business has any appreciable impact on interstate commerce.
Charges are filed by parties against unions or employers with the appropriate regional office. The regional office will investigate the complaint. If a violation is believed to exist, the region will take the case before an Administrative Law Judge who will conduct a hearing. The decision of the Administrative Law Judge may be reviewed by the five member Board. Board decisions are reviewable by United States Courts of Appeals. The Board's decisions are not self-executing: it must seek court enforcement in order to force a recalcitrant party to comply with its orders. (For greater detail on this process see the entry for unfair labor practice).
From December 2007 until March 2009, the five-member Board had only two members, creating a legal controversy. Three members' terms expired in December 2007, leaving the NLRB with just two members—Chair Wilma B. Liebman and Member Peter Schaumber. President George W. Bush refused to make some nominations to the Board and Senate Democrats refused to confirm those he did. Just before the Board lost a quorum, the five Members agreed to delegate their authority to a three-person panel (as provided for by the National Labor Relations Act). Only two of the members of the panel (Liebman and Schaumber) would remain on the Board, but the Board concluded that these two members constituted a quorum of the panel and thus could make decisions on behalf of the entire Board. Liebman and Schaumber informally agreed to decide only those cases which were noncontroversial (in their view) and on which they could agree, and issued more than 400 decisions between January 2008 and September 2009.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Courts of Appeals for the First, Second, and Seventh Circuits upheld the two-member NLRB's authority to decide cases, while the D.C. Circuit Court of Appeals did not. In September 2009, the Justice Department asked the U.S. Supreme Court to immediately hear arguments concerning the dispute, given the high stakes involved. The Supreme Court granted certiorari in October and agreed to decide the issue. In June 2010, the Supreme Court ruled in New Process Steel, L. P. v. NLRB that the two-member Board had no authority to issue decisions, invalidating the rulings made by Liebman and Schaumber.
The existence of a legitimate quorum on the NLRB came into question again in January 2013, when the District of Columbia Court of Appeals ruled that President Obama had "violated the Constitution when he bypassed the Senate to fill three board vacancies".
In April 2009, President Obama nominated Craig Becker (Associate General Counsel of the Service Employees International Union), Mark Gaston Pearce (a member on the Industrial Board of Appeals, an agency of the New York State Department of Labor), and Brian Hayes (Republican Labor Policy Director for the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions) to fill the three empty seats on the NLRB.
Becker's nomination appeared to fail on February 8, 2010, after Republican Senators (led by John McCain) threatened to filibuster his nomination. President Obama said he would consider making recess appointments to the NLRB due to the Senate's failure to move on any of the three nominations. On March 27, 2010 Obama recess appointed Becker and Pearce. On June 22, 2010, a voice vote in the Senate confirmed Pearce to a full term, allowing him to serve until August 27, 2013. The same day, the Senate confirmed Republican nominee Brian Hayes of Massachusetts by voice vote. Hayes' term ended on December 16, 2012. Becker's term, as a recess appointee, ended on December 31, 2011. Effective August 28, 2011, Pearce was named chairman to replace Democrat Wilma Liebman, whose term had expired.
On January 4, 2012, Obama announced recess appointments to three seats on the board: Sharon Block, Terence F. Flynn, and Richard Griffin. The appointments were criticized by Republicans, including the House Speaker John Boehner, as unconstitutional and "a brazen attempt to undercut the role of the Senate to advise and consent the executive branch on appointments". Although made as recess appointments, critics questioned their legality, arguing that Congress had not officially been in recess as pro forma sessions had been held. Former U.S. attorney general Edwin Meese stated that in his opinion, since the appointments were made when the Senate was "demonstrably not in recess" they represented "a constitutional abuse of a high order." On January 12, 2012 the U.S. Justice Department released a memo stating that appointments made during pro forma sessions are supported by the Constitution and precedent. On January 25, 2013, a panel of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled that President Obama's recess appointments were invalid as they were not made during an intersession recess of the Senate. It further concluded that the Recess Appointments Clause only permitted the President to fill a vacancy if it arose during an intersession recess of the Senate, and the President moved to fill it during the same recess. At the Obama Administration's request, the U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to hear the case, National Labor Relations Board v . Noel Canning, No. 12-1281.
Not once between January 2008 and mid-July 2013 did the agency have five members, and not once did it ever operate with three confirmed members. The agency's ability to operate was in serious jeopardy. On July 14, 2013, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid threatened to exercise the "nuclear option" and allow a simple majority (rather than a supermajority) of the Senate to end a filibuster. The threat to end the filibuster's privileged position in the Senate was intended to end Republican filibustering of NLRB nominees. But on July 16, President Obama and Senate Republicans reached an agreement to end the impasse over NLRB appointees. Obama consented to withdraw the pending nominations of Sharon Block and Richard Griffin, and submit two new nominees: Nancy Schiffer, associate general counsel at the AFL-CIO, and Kent Hirozawa, chief counsel to NLRB Chairman Mark Gaston Pearce. Republicans also agreed not to oppose a fourth nominee, to be submitted in 2014.
The General Counsel, appointed by the President to a four-year term, is independent from the Board and is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases and for the general supervision of the NLRB field offices in the processing of cases.
Lafe Solomon was named Acting General Counsel on June 21, 2010. His nomination to serve as General Counsel was sent to the U.S. Senate on January 5, 2011. His nomination was still pending as of January 2013.
Democratic Labor Party (historical)
The Australian Labor Party (also ALP and Labor, was Labour before 1912) is an Australian political party. It has governed the Commonwealth of Australia since the 2007 federal election. Kevin Rudd is the party's federal parliamentary leader. In the state and territory parliaments, Labor governs in South Australia, Tasmania and the Australian Capital Territory. The party competes against the Liberal/National Coalition for political office at the federal and state (and sometimes local) level.
Labor's constitution states: "The Australian Labor Party is a democratic socialist party and has the objective of the democratic socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange, to the extent necessary to eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features in these fields." This "socialist objective" was introduced in 1921, but has always been heavily qualified by wording which makes it clear that Labor supports private property.][ It has been a dead letter since the 1940s, when the Chifley government failed to nationalise the private banks. Today Labor defines itself as "a coalition that includes reformers, radicals, progressives, social democrats and democratic socialists united by a critique of the inequalities in society, a commitment to a more just and equal society, and the achieving of this aim by democratic means."
The ALP was founded as a federal party prior to the first sitting of the Australian Parliament in 1901, but is descended from labour parties founded in the various Australian colonies by the emerging labour movement in Australia, formally beginning in 1891. Labor is thus the country's oldest political party. Colonial labour parties contested seats from 1891, and federal seats following the Federation at the 1901 federal election. Labor was the first party in Australia to win a majority in either house of the Australian Parliament, at the 1910 federal election. The ALP pre-dates both the British Labour Party and New Zealand Labour Party in party formation, government, and policy implementation.
The ALP is descended from Labour parties founded in the 1890s in the Australian colonial parliaments prior to federation. Labor tradition ascribes the founding of Queensland Labour to a meeting of striking pastoral workers under a ghost gum tree (the "Tree of Knowledge") in Barcaldine, Queensland in 1891. The Balmain, New South Wales branch of the party claims to be the oldest in Australia.
Labour as a parliamentary force dates from 1891 in New South Wales, 1893 in South Australia and Queensland, and later in the other colonies. In New South Wales in 1891, the first election contested by Labour candidates, 35 of 141 seats were won by Labour candidates. Labour was in a balance of power position and had a stance of government support in exchange for policy concessions with the colonial Protectionist and Free Trade parties. In 1899, Anderson Dawson formed a minority Labour government in Queensland, the first in the world, which lasted one week while the conservatives regrouped after a split.
The colonial Labour parties and the trade unions were mixed in their support for the Federation of Australia. Some Labour representatives argued against the proposed constitution, claiming the Senate as proposed was too powerful, similar to the anti-reformist colonial upper houses and the British House of Lords. They feared federation would further entrench the power of the conservative forces. The first Labour leader and Prime Minister, Chris Watson, however, was a supporter of federation.
After Federation, the federal parliamentary Labour Party (informally known as the Caucus) first met on 8 May 1901 at Parliament House, Melbourne, the meeting place of the first Federal Parliament. This is now taken as the founding date of the federal Labor Party, but it was some years before there was any significant structure or organisation at a national level.
Labour during its early years was distinguished by its rapid growth and success at a national level, first forming a minority government under Chris Watson, the first Labour prime minister in the world, for four months in 1904. Andrew Fisher then formed another minority government 1908–09. At the 1910 election, Fisher led Labor to victory. The Fisher government was Australia's first federal majority government, held Australia's first Senate majority, and was the world's first labour party majority government. This was the first time a labour party had controlled any house of a legislature, and the first time it controlled both houses of a bicameral legislature. The state branches were also successful, except in Victoria, where the strength of Deakinite liberalism inhibited the party's growth. The state branches formed their first majority governments in New South Wales and South Australia in 1910, in Western Australia in 1911, in Queensland in 1915 and in Tasmania in 1925. Such success eluded equivalent social democratic and labour parties in other countries for many years.
Analysis of the early NSW Labor caucus reveals "a band of unhappy amateurs", made up of blue collar workers, a squatter, a doctor, and even a mine owner, indicating that the idea that only the socialist working class formed Labor is untrue. In addition, many members from the working class supported the liberal notion of free trade between the colonies – in the first grouping of state MPs, 17 of the 35 were free-traders.
In the aftermath of World War I and the Russian Revolution of 1917, support for socialism grew in trade union ranks, and at the 1921 All-Australian Trades Union Congress a resolution was passed calling for "the socialisation of industry, production, distribution and exchange." As a result, Labor's Federal Conference in 1922 adopted a similarly worded "socialist objective," which remained official policy for many years. The resolution was immediately qualified, however, by the "Blackburn amendment," which said that "socialisation" was desirable only when was necessary to "eliminate exploitation and other anti-social features." In practice the socialist objective was a dead letter. Only once has a federal Labor government attempted to nationalise any industry (Ben Chifley's bank nationalisation of 1947), and that was held by the High Court to be unconstitutional. The commitment to nationalisation was dropped by Gough Whitlam, and Bob Hawke's government carried out many free market reforms including the floating of the dollar and privatisation of state enterprises such as Qantas airways and the Commonwealth Bank.
The Labor Party is commonly described as a social democratic party, and its constitution stipulates that it is a democratic socialist party. The party was created by, and has always been influenced by, the trade unions, and in practice its policy at any given time has usually been the policy of the broader labour movement. Thus at the first federal election 1901 Labor's platform called for a White Australia Policy, a citizen army and compulsory arbitration of industrial disputes. Labor has at various times supported high tariffs and low tariffs, conscription and pacifism, White Australia and multiculturalism, nationalisation and privatisation, isolationism and internationalism.
Historically, Labor and its affiliated unions were strong defenders of the White Australia Policy which banned all non-European migration to Australia. This policy was partly motivated by 19th century theories about "racial purity" and by fears of economic competition from low-wage overseas workers which was shared by the vast majority of Australians and all major political parties. In practice the party opposed all migration, on the grounds that immigrants competed with Australian workers and drove down wages, until after World War II, when the Chifley Government launched a major immigration program. The party's opposition to non-European immigration did not change until after the retirement of Arthur Calwell as leader in 1967. Subsequently Labor has become an advocate of multiculturalism, although some of its trade union base and some of its members continue to oppose high immigration levels.
The ALP adopted the formal name "Australian Labour Party" in 1908, but changed the spelling to "Labor" in 1912. While it is standard practice in Australian English both today and at the time to spell the word labour with a "u", the party was influenced by the United States labour movement and a prominent figure in the early history of the party, the American–born King O'Malley, was successful in having the spelling "modernised". The change also made it easier to distinguish references to the party from the labour movement in general. Furthermore, the spelling "labor" had been acceptable in both British and Australian English in earlier periods. (See also: Spelling in Australian English)
The Curtin and Chifley governments governed Australia through the latter half of World War II and initial stages of transition to peace. Labor leader John Curtin became prime minister in October 1941 when two independents crossed the floor of Parliament. Labor, led by Curtin, then led Australia through the years of the Pacific War. In December 1941, Curtin announced that "Australia looks to America, free of any pangs as to our traditional links or kinship with the United Kingdom", thus helping to establish the Australian-American alliance (later formalised as ANZUS by the Menzies Government). Remembered as a strong war time leader and for a landslide win at the 1943 election, Curtin died in office just prior to the end of the war and was succeeded by Ben Chifley. Chifley Labor won the 1946 election and oversaw Australia's initial transition to a peacetime economy. Labor was defeated at the 1949 election. At the conference of the New South Wales Labor Party in June 1949, Chifley sought to define the labour movement as having:
[A] great objective – the light on the hill – which we aim to reach by working for the betterment of mankind... [Labor would] bring something better to the people, better standards of living, greater happiness to the mass of the people.
— Ben Chifley
To a large extent, Chifley saw centralisation of the economy as the means to achieve such ambitions. With an increasingly uncertain economic outlook, after his attempt to nationalise the banks and a strike by the Communist-dominated Miners Federation, Chifley lost office at in 1949 to Robert Menzies' Liberal-National Coalition. Labor commenced what would be a 23-year period in opposition.
Various ideological beliefs were factionalised under reforms to the ALP under Gough Whitlam, resulting in what is now known as the Socialist Left who tend to favour a more interventionist economic policy and more socially progressive ideals, and Labor Right, the now dominant faction that tends to be more economically liberal and focus to a lesser extent on social issues. The Whitlam Labor government, marking a break with Labor's socialist tradition, pursued social-democratic policies rather than democratic socialist policies. Whitlam, in contrast to earlier Labor leaders, also cut tariffs by 25 percent. Whitlam led the Federal Labor Party back to office at the 1972 and 1974 elections, and passed a large amount of legislation. The Whitlam Government lost office following the 1975 Australian constitutional crisis and dismissal by Governor-General Sir John Kerr after the Coalition blocked supply in the Senate after a series of political scandals, and was defeated at the 1975 election. Whitlam remains the only Prime Minister to have his commission terminated in that manner.
Bob Hawke led Labor back to office at the 1983 election and the Hawke-Keating Government remained in power until defeated by John Howard at the 1996 election.
Kim Beazley led the party to the 1998 election, winning 51 percent of the two-party preferred vote but falling short on seats, and lost ground at the 2001 election. Mark Latham led Labor to the 2004 election but lost further ground. Beazley replaced Latham in 2005. Beazley in turn was challenged by Kevin Rudd who went on to defeat John Howard at the 2007 election with 52.7 percent of the two-party vote. The Rudd Government ended prior to the 2010 election with the replacement of Rudd as leader of the Party by deputy leader Julia Gillard. The Gillard Government was commissioned to govern in a hung parliament following the 2010 election with a one-seat parliamentary majority and 50.12 percent of the two-party vote.
Between the 2007 federal election and the 2008 Western Australian state election, Labor was in government nationally, as well as in all eight state and territory legislatures. This was the first time any single party or any coalition had achieved this since the ACT and the NT gained self-government. After narrowly losing government in Western Australia at the 2008 state election and Victoria at the 2010 state election, Labor lost government in landslides in New South Wales at the 2011 state election and Queensland at the 2012 state election.
Existing for over a century, the Australian Labor Party has been responsible for the carriage of many Acts in the Parliament of Australia. Passing 113 Acts, the 1910–13 Labor government was a period unmatched in the Commonwealth until the 1940s. The first federal Labor Party led by Chris Watson, holding the balance of power (Watson being prime minister for four months in 1904), was very influential in Edmund Barton and Alfred Deakin Protectionist Party government policy since the beginning of the Parliament of Australia in 1901. With a change of Labor leader in 1907, Andrew Fisher was a Labor prime minister three times between 1908 and 1915, collectively four years and ten months, second only to Bob Hawke's eight years. Fisher's second government resulting from the 1910 federal election represented a number of firsts: it was the first time a party had been elected to majority government in the House of Representatives, it was also the first time a party received a Senate majority, and it was the world's first Labour Party majority government at a national level. The ALP vote rose rapidly, going from 15 percent against two larger and more established parties in 1901, to 50 percent in 1910, after a majority of the Protectionist Party merged with the Anti-Socialist Party (formerly Free Trade Party), creating the Commonwealth Liberal Party led by Deakin which received 45 percent. At the time, it represented the culmination of Labour's involvement in politics, with success that eluded Labour Parties in other countries for decades. Labour implemented many Acts in defence, constitutional matters, finance, transport and communications, and social security, achieving the vast majority of his aims in his first government, such as establishing old-age and disability pensions, improved working conditions including a maternity allowance and workers compensation, issuing Australia's first paper currency, forming the Royal Australian Navy, the commencement of construction for the Trans-Australian Railway, expanding the bench of the High Court of Australia, founding Canberra and establishing the government-owned Commonwealth Bank of Australia. Fisher carried out measures to break up land monopolies, put forward proposals for more regulation of working hours, wages and employment conditions, and amended the 1904 Conciliation and Arbitration Act to provide greater authority for the court president and to allow for Commonwealth employees' industrial unions, registered with the Arbitration Court. A land tax, aimed at breaking up big estates and to provide a wider scope for small-scale farming, was also introduced, while coverage of the Arbitration system extended to agricultural workers, domestics, and federal public servants. In addition, the age at which women became entitled to the old-age pension was lowered from 65 to 60. The introduction of the maternity allowance enabled more births to be attended by doctors, thus leading to reductions in infant mortality. Labour was renamed Labor in 1912. Labor lost the 1913 election by one seat, but retained a Senate majority, and returned to government at the 1914 election. Fisher resigned as prime minister and left Parliament in 1915, Labor had split following Labor leader and Prime Minister Billy Hughes being expelled over his support for Conscription in Australia as a result of World War I. Hughes and his supporters eventually led the Commonwealth Liberal Party replacement, the Nationalist Party of Australia. The and for conscription failed. The National Party of Australia (then Country Party) started contesting elections from the 1918 Swan by-election, after which full-preference instant-runoff voting was introduced by the Nationalist Party government. Days before the global Great Depression struck, the one-term James Scullin government was elected at the 1929 election but with a minority in the Senate. As such, Labor would remain without workable lower/upper house majorities on the floor until the 1940s.
Labor under John Curtin formed a minority government in 1941 after the crossbench consisting of two independent MPs crossed the floor in the House of Representatives, bringing down the United Australia Party Coalition minority government of Robert Menzies which resulted from the 1940 election – aside from the formulative early parliaments, the only other hung parliament has resulted from the 2010 election. Curtin led federal Labor to the greatest win of an Australian federal political party with two thirds of seats in the lower house and 58.2 percent of the two-party preferred vote at the 1943 election, and a Senate majority. Child endowment payments were introduced in 1941, widow's pensions in 1942, and Commonwealth unemployment benefits in 1945. Curtin led Australia when the Australian mainland came under direct military threat during the Japanese advance in 1942 during World War II. He is widely regarded as one of the country's greatest Prime Ministers; General Douglas MacArthur said that Curtin was "one of the greatest of the wartime statesmen", while Curtin's Prime Ministerial predecessor and 1943 election Coalition leader, Arthur Fadden of the Country Party wrote: "I do not care who knows it but in my opinion there was no greater figure in Australian public life in my lifetime than Curtin." Ben Chifley became Labor leader and Prime Minister when Curtin died in 1945. Chifley Labor went on to retain a majority in both houses of Australian Parliament at the 1946 election with 54.1 percent of the two-party preferred vote against the newly formed Liberal Party of Australia in their Coalition with the Country Party. Amongst Chifley's Acts, he expanded health care in Australia with a Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS) and free hospital ward treatment, introduced the Australian citizenship, a post-war immigration scheme, the founding of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), the reorganisation and enlargement of the Australian scientific organisation CSIR to the CSIRO, the Snowy Mountains Scheme, improvements in social services, the establishment of a Universities Commission for the expansion of university education, the creation of the Commonwealth Employment Service (CES), the introduction of federal funds to the States for public housing construction, the creation of a civilian rehabilitation service, over-viewing the foundation of airlines Qantas and TAA, and the creation of the Australian National University. One of the few successful referendums to modify the Australian Constitution, the 1946 Social Services referendum, took place during Chifley's term. It was a period not matched until the 1970s, the number of Chifley government Acts was such that between 1946 and 1949, the Australian Parliament passed 299 Acts, a new record up until Whitlam, and well beyond Fisher. The Senate was changed to proportional voting prior to Labor's defeat at the 1949 election, Labor has not held a majority in both houses since. Labor had split in 1955, key people in the split were Labor leader H. V. "Doc" Evatt, and the ruling mind behind the "Catholic Social Studies Movement" or "the Movement" and the Democratic Labor Party, B. A. Santamaria.
Gough Whitlam led Labor to power at the 1972 election and retained government at the 1974 election, before his dismissal during the 1975 constitutional crisis. Whitlam and his government massively expanded the federal budget to implement an extensive number of new programs and policy changes, such as fee-free tertiary education, the formal removal of the White Australia Policy, the implementation of legal aid programs, the elimination of military conscription and criminal execution, health care in Australia became universal with the creation of Medibank, and tariffs were cut across the board by 25 percent. His government passed around one-thousand Acts in total. The Whitlam government passed more Acts in one term of parliament than any other previous government, and remains the only government in history to hold a joint sitting of federal Parliament, the 1974 joint sitting, for the purposes of passing twice-rejected legislation. The Senate had a shared balance of power which drifted between the DLP, the Liberal Movement, and independents or any from the Coalition who crossed the floor.
Bob Hawke and Paul Keating led Labor to victory at five consecutive federal elections: 1983, 1984, 1987, 1990 and 1993, before being defeated in 1996. Hawke was defeated as Labor leader in a 1991 spill against Keating who had been Treasurer of Australia since 1983. Hawke is Labor's longest-serving Prime Minister and Australia's third-longest-serving Prime Minister. The Hawke and Keating Labor governments radically transformed the Australian economy, departing from a historical bipartisan Keynesian approach to the Australian economy, with the change of the Australian dollar from a government-fixed exchange rate to a floating exchange rate. Extensive deregulation of financial and banking systems occurred, both of which made Australia significantly more integrated with the global economy. Privatisation of state sector industries occurred, including Qantas and Commonwealth Bank. The tariff system was dismantled, and the subsidisation of some loss-making industries ended. Low-income centralised wage fixing was introduced through the Prices and Incomes Accord, and enterprise bargaining was introduced. The tax system was changed, including the introduction of fringe benefits tax and a capital gains tax. Superannuation in Australia was implemented with a nine percent employer contribution. Tertiary education fees in Australia saw a HECS payment system introduced as a replacement for fee-free tertiary education which had been removed after Whitlam. Medicare was introduced as a replacement for Medibank which had also been removed after Whitlam. Dental insurance through the Commonwealth Dental Health Program was introduced, but was removed after Labor lost government. Funding for schools was considerably increased, financial assistance was provided for students to enable them to stay at school longer, native title in Australia was recognised, and progress was made in directing assistance to the most disadvantaged recipients over a whole range of welfare benefits. The Parliament of Australia itself was reformed in several ways. The duration of the 13-year Labor government saw thousands of Acts passed by the Australian Parliament. The balance of power in the Senate was held by the Democrats, but with Labor nine seats short of an upper-house majority from the 1993 election, it was shared between seven Democrats, two WA Greens and independent Brian Harradine.
Labor led by Kevin Rudd won the 2007 election with a 23-seat, 5.5 percent two-party-preferred swing, but in the Senate, Labor was seven seats short of a majority, with a collectively shared balance of power between five Greens, Family First's Steve Fielding and independent Nick Xenophon. The Rudd government signed the Kyoto Protocol, and delivered an apology to Indigenous Australians for the stolen generations. The previous Coalition government's WorkChoices industrial relations system was largely dismantled and Fair Work Australia was created. National Broadband Network (NBN) discussions and the final agreement with Telstra occurred and construction and rollout commenced, remaining Iraq War combat personnel were withdrawn, and the "Australia 2020 Summit" was held. Labor reduced income tax rates in 2008, 2009 and 2010, and pensions were increased, as well as additional funding for health and education. A new Teen Dental Plan was launched, while around 100 laws relating to same-sex relationships in the LGBT community were changed after a HREOC enquiry found them to be discriminatory. In response to the Global Financial Crisis, the government provided economic stimulus packages, and Australia was one of the few western countries to avoid the late-2000s recession. Julia Gillard replaced Rudd as Labor leader and Prime Minister in a 2010 spill. At the 2010 election, the first hung parliament occurred since the 1940 election, the incumbent Gillard Labor government formed a minority government in the House of Representatives with four crossbenchers – three independents and one Green, a one-seat parliamentary majority. (However, on 19 February 2013, the Greens announced that Labor had ended the alliance between the two parties.) Later changes in speaker and government support increased the parliamentary majority to three seats, then two seats. In the Senate, the Greens with nine seats went from a shared balance of power position to a sole balance of power position. The Gillard Labor government introduced the Clean Energy Bill as a replacement for the Carbon Pollution Reduction Scheme (CPRS) in conjunction with compensation including further income tax cuts and an increase in the tax-free threshold, a Minerals Resource Rent Tax (MRRT) was introduced as a replacement for the Resource Super Profits Tax (RSPT), Gillard reached a health care agreement with state and territory leaders, introduced paid parental leave, plain cigarette packaging laws, the biggest cuts on consumer prices of medicines in Australian history under the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme (PBS), and allocated funding for children and concession holders to receive dental insurance through Medicare. The 2011 Labor conference saw an agreement to a conscience vote for same-sex marriage in Australia through a private members bill. Under Rudd and Gillard, around 500 Acts have been passed by the Australian Parliament, including many in the current hung parliament.
The Labor Party has split three times:
In addition, founding member Joseph Cook left the party in 1894, and went on to be Prime Minister of Australia with the Commonwealth Liberal Party in 1913–14.
The policy of the Australian Labor Party is contained in its National Platform, which is approved by delegates to Labor's National Conference, held every three years. According to the Labor Party's website, "The Platform is the result of a rigorous and constructive process of consultation, spanning the nation and including the cooperation and input of state and territory policy committees, local branches, unions, state and territory governments, and individual Party members. The Platform provides the policy foundation from which we can continue to work towards the election of a federal Labor Government."
The platform gives a general indication of the policy direction which a future Labor government would follow, but does not commit the party to specific policies. It maintains that "Labor's traditional values will remain a constant on which all Australians can rely." While making it clear that Labor is fully committed to a market economy, it says that: "Labor believes in a strong role for national government – the one institution all Australians truly own and control through our right to vote." Labor "will not allow the benefits of change to be concentrated in fewer and fewer hands, or located only in privileged communities. The benefits must be shared by all Australians and all our regions." The Platform and Labor "believe that all people are created equal in their entitlement to dignity and respect, and should have an equal chance to achieve their potential." For Labor, "government has a critical role in ensuring fairness by: ensuring equal opportunity; removing unjustifiable discrimination; and achieving a more equitable distribution of wealth, income and status." Further sections of the Platform stress Labor's support for equality and human rights, labour rights and democracy.
In practice, the Platform provides only general policy guidelines to Labor's federal, state and territory parliamentary leaderships. The policy Labor takes into an election campaign is determined by the Cabinet (if the party is in office) or the Shadow Cabinet (if it is in opposition), in consultation with key interest groups within the party, and is contained in the parliamentary Leader's policy speech delivered during the election campaign. When Labor is in office, the policies it implements are determined by the Cabinet, subject to the Platform. Generally, it is accepted that while the Platform binds Labor governments, how and when it is implemented remains the prerogative of the parliamentary caucus. It is now rare for the Platform to conflict with government policy, as the content of the Platform is usually developed in close collaboration with the party's parliamentary leadership as well as the factions. However, where there is a direct contradiction with the Platform, Labor governments have sought to change the Platform as a prerequisite for a change in policy. For example, privatisation legislation under the Hawke government occurred only after holding a special national conference to debate changing the Platform.
The Australian Labor Party is a democratic and federal party, which consists of both individual members and affiliated trade unions, who between them decide the party's policies, elect its governing bodies and choose its candidates for public office. The majority of trade unions in Australia are affiliated to the party, and their affiliation fees, based on the size of their memberships, makes up a large part of the party's income. The party consists of six state and two territory branches, each of which consists of local branches which any Australian resident can join, plus affiliated trade unions. Individual members pay a membership fee, which is graduated according to income. Members are generally expected to attend at least one meeting of their local branch each year, although there are differences in the rules from state to state. In practice only a dedicated minority regularly attend meetings. Many members only become active during election campaigns. The party has about 35,000 individual members, although this figure tends to fluctuate along with the party's electoral fortunes.
The members and unions elect delegates to state and territory conferences (usually held annually, although more frequent conferences are often held). These conferences decide policy, and elect state or territory executives, a state or territory president (an honorary position usually held for a one-year term), and a state or territory secretary (a full-time professional position). The larger branches also have full-time assistant secretaries and organisers. In the past the ratio of conference delegates coming from the branches and affiliated unions has varied from state to state, however under recent national reforms at least 50% of delegates at all state and territory conferences must be elected by branches.
The party holds a national conference every three years, which consists of delegates representing the state and territory branches (many coming from affiliated trade unions, although there is no formal requirement for unions to be represented at the national conference). The national conference approves the party's platform and policies, elects the national executive, and appoints office-bearers such as the national secretary, who also serves as national campaign director during elections. The current National Secretary is George Wright. The most recent National Conference was held from 2 to 4 December 2011.
The federal parliamentary leader of the Labor Party is elected by the Labor members of the national Parliament (the Caucus), not by the conference. Until recently the national conference elected the party's national president, but since 2003 the position has rotated amongst a presidential team of three, directly elected by the party's individual members. Each member of the team serves a one-year term as national president, with the other members serving as vice-presidents. The current national president is Jenny McAllister, the national vice-presidents are Tony Sheldon and Jane Garrett.
The Labor Party contests national, state and territory elections. In some states it also contests local government elections: in others it does not, preferring to allow its members to run as non-endorsed candidates. The process of choosing candidates is called preselection. Candidates are preselected by different methods in the various states and territories. In some they are chosen by ballots of all party members, in others by panels or committees elected by the state conference, in still others by a combination of these two. Labor candidates are required to sign a pledge that if elected they will always vote in Parliament in accordance with the platform and decisions made by a vote of the Caucus. They are also sometimes required to donate a portion of their salary to the party, although this practice has declined with the introduction of public funding for political parties.
The Labor Party has always had a left wing and a right wing, but since the 1970s it has been organised into formal factions, to which some party members belong and often pay an additional membership fee. The two largest factions are Labor Unity (on the right) and the Socialist Left. Labor Unity generally supports free-market policies and the US alliance and tends to be conservative on some social issues. The national Left, although it seldom openly espouses socialism, favours more state intervention in the economy, is generally less enthusiastic about the US alliance and is often more progressive on social issues. The factions are themselves divided into sub-factions, primarily state-based.
Labor-affiliated trade unions are also factionally aligned. The largest unions supporting the right are the Australian Workers' Union (AWU), the National Union of Workers (NUW), the Shop, Distributive and Allied Employees' Association (SDA), and the Transport Workers Union (TWU). Important unions supporting the left include the Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU), United Voice, the Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union (CFMEU), the Australian Services Union (ASU) and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA). These affiliations are seldom unconditional or permanent. The AWU and the NUW, for example, are bitter rivals and the NUW sometimes aligns itself with the left. Moreover, in some cases different union branches may have different factional alignments. On some issues, such as opposition to the Howard Government's industrial relations policy, all the unions were in agreement and worked as a bloc within the party.
Preselections are usually conducted along factional lines, although sometimes a non-factional candidate will be given preferential treatment (this happened with Cheryl Kernot in 1998 and again with Peter Garrett in 2004). Deals between the factions to divide up the safe seats between them often take place. Preselections, particularly for safe Labor seats, can sometimes be strongly contested. A particularly fierce preselection sometimes gives rise to accusations of branch stacking (signing up large numbers of nominal party members to vote in preselection ballots), personation, multiple voting and, on occasions, fraudulent electoral enrolment. Trade unions were in the past accused of giving inflated membership figures to increase their influence over preselections, but party rules changes have stamped out this practice. Preselection results are sometimes challenged, and the National Executive is sometimes called on to arbitrate these disputes.
Australian Capital Territory
New South Wales
see also Leader of the Australian Labor Party in New South Wales
See Category:Australian Labor Party politicians
For current ALP federal politicians, see:
Fair Labor Standards Act
The Democratic Labor Party (abbreviated as the DLP) was an Australian political party that existed from 1955 until 1978.
The DLP was formed as a result of a split in the Australian Labor Party (ALP) that began in 1954. The split was between the party's national leadership, under the then party leader Dr H.V. Evatt, and the majority of the Victorian branch, which was dominated by a faction composed largely of ideologically driven anti-Communist Catholics. Many ALP members in the Cold War period, most but not all Roman Catholics, were alarmed at what they saw as the growing power of the Communist Party in the trade unions. These members formed units within the unions called Industrial Groups to combat this alleged infiltration. The membership of the Industrial Groups generally supported the DLP after 1955.
The DLP was substantially, although not exclusively, a party of Irish Catholics. A minority of its parliamentarians and members, and a significant minority of its voters, were non-Catholics. Journalist Don Whitington argued in 1964 that the DLP, as a basically sectarian party, was a most dangerous and distasteful force in Australian politics. He claimed that the party was backed by influential sections of the Roman Catholic Church, and that while it professed to exist primarily to combat communism the party had less commendable reasons for being. Whitington's views were held by many people at the time they were written. The Archbishop of Melbourne, Daniel Mannix, was a DLP supporter, as were other influential clerics.
The intellectual leader of the Victorian Catholic wing of the ALP (although not actually a party member) was B.A. Santamaria, a Melbourne lawyer and lay Catholic activist who had the patronage of Mannix. Santamaria headed an activist group called "The Catholic Social Studies Movement" (often known as "The Movement"), which was modeled on Catholic Action groups in Europe and, in organizational terms, on the methods of its principal target, the Communist Party of Australia. This group later became the National Civic Council (NCC).
Evatt denounced the Movement and the Industrial Groups in 1954, alleging that they were trying to take over the ALP and turn it into a European-style Christian Democratic party. At the ALP national conference in Hobart, 1955, Santamaria's parliamentary supporters in the federal and Victorian parliaments were expelled from the ALP, against that party's constitutional rules][. They then formed a group called the ALP (Anti-Communist), which in 1957 became the DLP, which lasted until 1978.
The split soon extended to the Victorian state parliament, where a faction of Movement supporters crossed the floor to bring down the ALP state government of John Cain. In 1957, the Labor Party split in Queensland following the expulsion of Premier Vince Gair from the party. He and his followers formed the Queensland Labor Party, which became the Queensland branch of the DLP in 1962. In New South Wales, the Cardinal Archbishop of Sydney, Norman Thomas Gilroy, was opposed to the Movement's tactics, and as a result there was no party split there. The Australian Labor Party (Anti-Communist)'s performance at the 1955 state elections in Victoria, where it obtained 12% of the vote and retained only one of the 12 Assembly seats it held, was another factor recommending against a similar split in New South Wales.
Between 1955 and 1974 the DLP was able to command a significant vote, particularly in Victoria and Queensland, and during the period held between one and five seats in the Senate (which is elected by proportional representation). The DLP Senate leaders were George Cole from Tasmania between 1955–1965, Vince Gair from Queensland between 1965–1973, and Frank McManus from Victoria between 1973-1974. Other DLP Senators were Condon Byrne from Queensland, Jack Kane from New South Wales and Jack Little from Victoria. No DLP Senators or state politicians were ever elected in South Australia or Western Australia — the ALP did not split in these states although some lay branch members switched to the new party once it had been established. Since the ALP and the conservative parties usually held approximately equal numbers of seats in the Senate, the DLP was able to use balance of power in the Senate to extract concessions from Liberal governments, particularly government grants to Catholic schools, greater spending on defence and non-recognition of the People's Republic of China.
During this period the DLP also exercised influence by directing its supporters to give their second-preferences to Liberal candidates in federal and state elections (see Australian electoral system), thus helping to keep the ALP out of office at the federal level and in Victoria. The DLP vote gradually declined during the 1960s but remained strong enough for the Liberals to continue to need DLP preferences to win close elections. Santamaria's strategy was to keep the ALP out of office in this way until it agreed to his terms for re-unification.
After Evatt's retirement in 1960, his successor Arthur Calwell, a Catholic, tried to bring about a reconciliation between the ALP and the DLP. Negotiations were conducted through intermediaries, and in 1965 a deal was almost done. Three out of four of the ALP's parliamentary leaders agreed with a deal. However, Calwell refused to share power within the party with the DLP leadership on a membership number basis, so the deal failed. Santamaria believed that had he accepted, Calwell would have become Prime Minister. Four years later, DLP preferences kept Calwell's successor, Gough Whitlam, from toppling the Coalition despite winning an 18-seat swing and a majority of the two-party vote. Had four seats in the Melbourne area—the DLP's heartland—gone the other way, Whitlam would have won.
The DLP's policies were traditional Labor policies such as more spending on health, education and pensions, combined with strident opposition to Communism and emphasis for greater defence spending. The DLP strongly supported Australia's participation in the Vietnam War.
From the early 1960s onwards, the DLP became increasingly socially conservative, opposing homosexuality, abortion and pornography and drugs. This stand against "permissiveness" appealed to many conservative voters as well as the party's base among Catholics. Some members of the DLP disagreed with this, believing the party should stay focused on anti-communism.
The highest DLP vote was 11.11 percent, which occurred at the 1970 half-senate election.
Whitlam and the ALP won government in the 1972 election, bringing the DLP's strategy of keeping the ALP out of power undone. In 1974, Whitlam appointed Gair Ambassador to Ireland in a bid to split the DLP and remove its influence. This tactic was successful and the DLP lost all its Senate seats at the 1974 election. The party was formally wound up in 1978. Soon after, a small group of supporters formed a new Democratic Labor Party, which continues to this day.
Santamaria continued to exercise considerable influence through the National Civic Council (NCC) until his death in 1998.
The modern Democratic Labor Party was successful in electing upper house candidates with low primary votes but high-volume preference flows at the 2006 Victorian state election (2.7%) and the 2010 federal election (2.3% in Victoria). Peter Kavanagh served a four-year term in the Victorian Legislative Council, whilst John Madigan began his six-year term in the Australian Senate from July 2011. Thus far, neither has played a balance of power role, unlike their predecessors.
The Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (abbreviated as FLSA; also referred to as the Wages and Hours Bill) is a federal statute of the United States. The FLSA introduced a maximum 44-hour seven-day workweek, established a national minimum wage, guaranteed "time-and-a-half" for overtime in certain jobs, and prohibited most employment of minors in "oppressive child labor", a term that is defined in the statute. It applies to employees engaged in interstate commerce or employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage.
The FLSA was originally drafted in 1932 by Senator Hugo Black, who was later appointed to the Supreme Court in 1937. However, Black's proposal to require employers to adopt a thirty-hour workweek met stiff resistance. In 1938 a revised version of Black's proposal was passed that adopted an eight-hour day and a forty-hour workweek and allowed workers to earn wage for an extra four hours of overtime as well. According to the act, workers must be paid minimum wage and overtime pay must be one-and-a-half times regular pay. Children under eighteen cannot do certain dangerous jobs, and children under the age of sixteen cannot work during school hours. There were 700,000 workers affected by the FLSA, and Roosevelt called it the most important piece of New Deal legislation passed since the Social Security Act of 1935.
In 1946 the United States Supreme Court ruled in Anderson v. Mt. Clemens Pottery Co. that preliminary work activities, where controlled by the employer and performed entirely for the employer's benefit, are properly included as working time under the Fair Labor Standards Act. The decision is known as the "portal-to-portal act". The 1947 Portal-to-Portal Act specified exactly what type of time was considered compensable work time. In general, as long as an employee is engaging in activities that benefit the employer, regardless of when they are performed, the employer has an obligation to pay the employee for his or her time. It also specified that travel to and from the workplace was a normal incident of employment and shouldn't be considered paid working time.
The full effect of the FLSA of 1938 was postponed by the wartime inflation of the 1940s, which lowered wage values to below the level specified in the Act. The October 26, 1949 Fair Labor Standards Amendment (ch. 736, Pub.L. 81–393, 63 Stat. 910, 29 U.S.C. § 201) included changes to overtime compensation, defined a "regular rate," redefined the term "produced," raised the minimum wage from 40 cents to 75 cents per hour and extended child labor coverage. It also included a few new exemptions for special worker classes.
In 1955 the FLSA was amended once again to increase minimum wage, this time to one dollar per hour.
The 1961 FLSA Amendment added another method of determining a type of coverage called enterprise coverage. Enterprise coverage applies only when the business is involved in interstate commerce and its gross annual business volume is a minimum of $500,000. All employees working for these “enterprises” are then covered by the FLSA so long as the individual firms of the "enterprise have a revenue greater than $500,000 per year". Under the original 1938 Act, a worker whose work is in the channels of interstate commerce is covered as an individual. "Interstate commerce" is interpreted so broadly that a majority of work is included, such as ordering, loading, or using supplies from out of state, accepting payments from customers based on credit cards issued by out-of-state banks, and so on.
The 1961 Amendment also specified that coverage is automatic for schools, hospitals, nursing homes, or other residential care facilities. Coverage is also automatic for all governmental entities at whatever level of government, no matter how big or small. Coverage does not apply to certain entities that are not organized for a business purpose, such as churches and charitable institutions. The minimum wage level was again increased—this time to $1.25 per hour. What could be considered a wage was specifically defined, and entitlement to sue for back wages was granted.
The Contract Work Hours Standards Act, though not a direct amendment or modification to the FLSA, became law in 1962. It replaced the confusing and often ambiguous series of “Eight Hour Laws” (which date back to 1892) with a single, comprehensive law to govern hours of work for laborers.
The Equal Pay Act of 1963 was passed to amend the FLSA and make it illegal to pay workers lower wages strictly on the basis on their sex. It is often summed up with the phrase “equal pay for equal work”. This was a major step towards closing the wage gap in women's pay. In the past, it had been generally accepted that women did not deserve to earn as much money as men because they were not heads of households. However, in many homes, women were in fact the sole breadwinner for various reasons, ranging from death or disability of a spouse to divorce or single parenthood. Regardless of roles in the family, the Equal Pay Act established a single standard to apply to both sexes. The Equal Pay Act allows for unequal pay for equal work only when wages are set pursuant to a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production, or other factors outside of sex.
The 1966 FLSA Amendment expanded coverage to some farm workers and increased the minimum wage to $1.60 per hour in stages. This was in large part due to the efforts of labor leaders like Cesar Chavez who brought farm worker rights to national attention during this period. The 1966 FLSA amendment also gave state and local government employees coverage for the first time.
The Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA) of 1967 prohibited employment discrimination against persons forty years of age or older. Some older workers were being denied health benefits based on their age and denied training opportunities prior to the passage of the ADEA. This act applies only to businesses employing more than twenty workers.
The 1974 FLSA Amendment expanded coverage to include other state and local government employees that were not previously covered. Domestic workers also became covered and the minimum wage was increased to $2.30 per hour in stages.
The 1977 FLSA Amendment increased the minimum wage in yearly increments through 1981 to $3.35 an hour. Changes were made involving tipped employees and the tip credit. Partial overtime exemption was repealed in stages for certain hotel, motel, and restaurant employees.
The Migrant and Seasonal Agricultural Worker Protection Act (MSPA), passed in 1983, was designed to provide migrant and seasonal farm workers with protections concerning pay, working conditions, and work-related conditions, to require farm labor contractors to register with the U.S. Department of Labor, and to assure necessary protections for farm workers, agricultural associations, and agricultural employers.
The amendment to the FLSA enacted in 1985 permitted state and local government employers to compensate their employees' overtime hours with paid time away from work (compensatory time or “comp time”) in lieu of overtime pay. It also included modifications to ensure that true volunteer activities were not impeded or discouraged.
The Department of Defense Authorization Act of 1986 repealed the eight-hour daily overtime requirements on all federal contracts.
The 1989 FLSA amendments increased the minimum wage to $4.25 per hour in stages. The distinction between retail and non-retail was eliminated. Construction and laundry or dry cleaning were no longer named as enterprises. Changes were again made to the tip credit system. A “training wage” was established at 85% of minimum wage for workers less than 20 years of age. This “training wage”, also referred to as a "youth minimum wage" or "subminimum wage", could be paid for up to 90 days under certain conditions.
The 1996 FLSA amendment increased the minimum wage to $5.15 an hour. However, the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 (PL 104-188), which provided the minimum-wage increase, also detached tipped employees from future minimum-wage increases. Prior to 1996, tipped employees received 50% of the prevailing minimum wage. The tipped employee minimum wage was frozen, under federal law at least, at $2.13 per hour(29 U.S.C. § 203). State laws that grant higher hourly wages remain in force.
On August 23, 2004, controversial changes to the FLSA's overtime regulations went into effect, making substantial modifications to the definition of an "exempt" employee. Low-level working supervisors throughout American industries were reclassified as “executives” and lost overtime rights. These changes were sought by business interests and the Bush administration, which claimed that the laws needed clarification and that few workers would be affected. The Bush administration called the new regulations "FairPay". But other organizations, such as the AFL-CIO, claimed the changes would make millions of additional workers ineligible to obtain relief under the FLSA for overtime pay. Attempts in Congress to overturn the new regulations were unsuccessful.
Conversely, some low-level employees (particularly administrative-support staff) that had previously been classified as exempt were now reclassified as non-exempt. Although such employees work in positions bearing titles previously used to determine exempt status (such as "executive assistant"), the 2004 amendment to the FLSA now requires that an exemption must be predicated upon actual job function and not job title. Those employees with job titles that previously allowed exemption but whose job descriptions did not include managerial functions were now reclassified from exempt to non-exempt.
On May 25, 2007, President Bush signed into law a supplemental appropriation bill (H.R. 2206) which contains the Fair Minimum Wage Act of 2007. This provision amended the FLSA to provide for the increase of the federal minimum wage by an incremental plan, culminating in a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour by July 24, 2009.
Section 4207 of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (H.R.3590) amends Section 7 to add that employers shall provide break time for nursing mothers to express milk and that "a place, other than a bathroom, that is shielded from view and free from intrusion from coworkers and the public" should be available for employees to express milk.
The Fair Labor Standards Act applies to "employees who are engaged in interstate commerce or in the production of goods for commerce, or who are employed by an enterprise engaged in commerce or in the production of goods for commerce", unless the employer can claim an exemption from coverage. Generally, an employer who does at least $500,000 of business or gross sales in a year satisfies the commerce requirements of the FLSA, and therefore that employer's workers will be subject to the FLSA's protections if none of the other exemptions apply. Several exemptions exist that relieve an employer from having to meet the statutory minimum wage, overtime, and record-keeping requirements. The largest exceptions apply to the so-called "white collar" exemptions that are applicable to professional, administrative and executive employees. Exemptions are narrowly construed; an employer must prove that the employees fit "plainly and unmistakeably" within the exemption's terms.
The FLSA applies to "any individual employed by an employer" but not to independent contractors or volunteers because they are not considered "employees" under the FLSA. Still, an employer cannot simply exempt workers from the FLSA by calling them independent contractors, and many employers have illegally misclassified their workers as independent contractors. Some employers similarly mislabel employees as volunteers. Courts will look at the "economic reality" of the relationship between the putative employer and the worker to determine whether the worker is, in fact, an independent contractor. Courts use a similar test to determine whether a worker was concurrently employed by more than one person or entity; commonly referred to as "joint employers". For example, a farm worker may be considered jointly employed by a labor contractor (who is in charge of recruitment, transportation, payroll, and keeping track of hours) and a grower (who generally monitors the quality of the work performed, determines where to place workers, controls the volume of work available, has quality control requirements, and has the power to fire, discipline, or provide work instructions to workers).
Presuming an employee is not exempt from overtime, there are many instances in which overtime is not paid properly, including when an employee is not paid for travel time between job sites, activities before their shift starts or after it ends, and activities to prepare for work that are central to work activities. If an employee is entitled to overtime they must be paid one and a half times the employee's "regular rate of pay" for all hours worked over 40 in the same work week.
Employees who are employed in a ministerial role by a religiously affiliated employer are not entitled to overtime under the act.
Under the FLSA, an employer must pay each employee the minimum wage, unless the employee is "engaged in an occupation in which he or she customarily and regularly receives more than $30 a month in tips". If the employees wage does not equal minimum wage including tips the employer must make up the difference. However, the employee must be allowed to keep all of their tips, either individually or through a tip pool. Also, a tip pool may contain only "employees who customarily and regularly receive tips". "The phrase 'customarily and regularly' signifies a frequency which must be greater than occasional, but which may be less than constant."
While the nomenclature of a job title is not dispositive, the job of "busboy" is explicitly validated for tip-pool inclusion by an authoritative source. "A busboy performs an integral part of customer service without much direct interaction, but he does so in a manner visible to customers...Thus, for a service bartender to be validly included in a tip pool, she must meet this minimal threshold in a manner sufficient to incentivize customers to 'customarily and regularly' tip in recognition' of her services (though she need not receive the tips directly).
Labor Day in the United States is a holiday celebrated on the first Monday in September. It is a celebration of the American labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of their country.
Labor Day was promoted by the Central Labor Union and the Knights of Labor, who organized the first parade in New York City. After the Haymarket Massacre, which occurred in Chicago on May 4, 1886, US President Grover Cleveland feared that commemorating Labor Day on May 1 could become an opportunity to commemorate the affair. Thus, in 1887, it was established as an official holiday in September to support the Labor Day that the Knights favored.
NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co.
A labor spy is a person recruited or employed for the purpose of gathering intelligence, committing sabotage, sowing dissent, or engaging in other similar activities, typically within the context of an employer/labor organization relationship.
Some of the statistics cited by researchers suggest that, historically, trade unions have been the frequent targets of orchestrated campaigns employing labor spies, indicating that such actions against labor organizations are often the result of strategic considerations.
Industrial Workers of the World
NLRB v. Mackay Radio & Telegraph Co. 304 U.S. 333 (1938) is a 7-0 decision by the United States Supreme Court which held that workers who strike remain employees for the purposes of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The Court granted the relief sought by the National Labor Relations Board, which sought to have the workers reinstated by the employer. However, the decision is much better known today for its obiter dicta in which the Court said that an employer may hire strikebreakers and is not bound to discharge any of them if or when the strike ends.
The Mackay doctrine, as the striker replacement portion of the ruling is known, is one of the most significant Supreme Court rulings in American labor law, and has defined collective bargaining in the United States since its publication. "Mackay Radio was more than a decision that provided an instrumental method for a firm to replace economic strikers and to resist their return to employment after a strike. It was also a decision that established important practices that constituted the conduct of union-management bargaining during the post-New Deal Era."
The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW or the Wobblies) is an international industrial union that was formed in 1905. The origin of the nickname "Wobblies" is uncertain.
The IWW promotes the concept of "One Big Union", contends that all workers should be united as a social class and that capitalism and wage labor should be abolished. They are known for the Wobbly Shop model of workplace democracy, in which workers elect their managers and other forms of grassroots democracy (self-management) are implemented. IWW membership does not require that one work in a represented workplace, nor does it exclude membership in another labor union.
United States Postal Service
Labor relations is the study and practice of managing unionized employment situations. In academia, labor relations is frequently a subarea within industrial relations, though scholars from many disciplines--including economics, sociology, history, law, and political science--also study labor unions and labor movements. In practice, labor relations is frequently a subarea within human resource management. Courses in labor relations typically cover labor history, labor law, union organizing, bargaining, contract administration, and important contemporary topics.
In the United States, labor relations in the private sector is regulated by the National Labor Relations Act. Public sector labor relations is regulated by the Civil Service Reform Act of 1978 and various pieces of state legislation. In other countries, labor relations might be regulated by law or tradition.
The United States Postal Service (USPS), also known as the Post Office and U.S. Mail, is an independent agency of the United States federal government responsible for providing postal service in the United States. It is one of the few government agencies explicitly authorized by the United States Constitution. The USPS traces its roots to 1775 during the Second Continental Congress, where Benjamin Franklin was appointed the first postmaster general. The cabinet-level Post Office Department was created in 1792 from Franklin's operation and transformed into its current form in 1971 under the Postal Reorganization Act.
The USPS employed 522,144 workers and operated 212,530 vehicles in 2012. The USPS is the operator of the largest civilian vehicle fleet in the world. The USPS is legally obligated to serve all Americans, regardless of geography, at uniform price and quality. The USPS has exclusive access to letter boxes marked "U.S. Mail" and personal letterboxes in the United States, but still competes against private package delivery services, such as UPS and FedEx.