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National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp.

Court Recognizes Collective Bargaining As A "fundamental Right"

Chief Justice Hughes wrote the opinion for the five-member Court majority upholding the NLRA in Jones & Laughlin.

The congressional authority to protect interstate commerce from burdens and obstructions is not limited to transactions which can be deemed to be an essential part of a "flow" of interstate or foreign commerce. Burdens and obstructions may be due to injurious action springing from other sources . . . That power may be exerted to protect interstate commerce "no matter what the source of the dangers which threaten it." [Quoting Second Employers' Liability Cases(1912)]

In other words, a strike could interfere with interstate commerce. To prevent labor unrest in a time of economic crisis, the Supreme Court was more than willing to support the NLRA, which imposed a duty on employers to negotiate with their workers. But Hughes's opinion went even further, recognizing workers' "fundamental right" to organize. As a result of Jones & Laughlin, the power of unions would expand to fill the void left by the death of laissez faire.

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Law Library - American Law and Legal InformationNotable Trials and Court Cases - 1918 to 1940National Labor Relations Board v. Jones Laughlin Steel Corp. - Significance, Court Recognizes Collective Bargaining As A "fundamental Right", The New Deal, Further Readings