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Taft-Hartley Act

The Taft-Hartley Act, passed over the veto of President Harry Truman in 1947, severely restricted the activities and power of unions in the United States. President Truman described the act as a "slave-labor bill". The act, officially known as the Labor-Management Relations Act, was sponsored by Senator Robert Taft[?] and Representative Fred Hartley[?].

It outlawed closed shops[?], where only labor union members could be hired. Union shops[?], where non-union workers hired must join the union within a certain amount of time, are permitted only if the majority of workers approve. The act provides for a 60-day cooling-off period after a contract expires before a strike may be called. Jurisdictional strikes, where two unions attempt to gain control of a particular group of workers, and secondary boycotts and picketing, where unions boycott or picket businesses associated with a target business, are forbidden. Unions are forbidden from contacting workers at the workplace. All union leaders must file affadavits with the US Department of Labor declaring that they are not supporters of the Communist Party.

The President of the United States may obtain a court injunction to break any strike deemed a danger to "the national health or safety", a test that has been in practice interpreted loosely by the courts.

The repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act has been sought by labor activists since its inception, and was one of the planks of Ralph Nader's platform during his bid for the Presidency in 2000.

One of the criticisms of the 60-day cooling of period is that it gives employers less incentive to negotiate. Knowing that the President will seek a cooling-off period, the employer does not make their best offer until the cooling off period is nearly expired.

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