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Labor Law

Historical Background, Modern Labor Law, Unfair Labor Practices, Reinventing The Workplace: Improving Quality, Or Creating Company (sham) Unions?

An area of the law that deals with the rights of employers, employees, and labor organizations.

U.S. labor law covers all facets of the legal relationship between employers, employees, and employee LABOR UNIONS. Employers' opposition to recognizing employees' rights to organize and bargain collectively with management has resulted in a system of primarily federal laws and regulations that is adversarial in nature. Modern labor law dates from the passage of the WAGNER ACT of 1935, also known as the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 151 et seq.). Congress has passed two major revisions of this act: the TAFT-HARTLEY ACT of 1947, also known as the LABOR MANAGEMENT RELATIONS ACT (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 141 et seq.), and the LANDRUM-GRIFFIN ACT of 1959, also known as the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (29 U.S.C.A. §§ 401 et seq.).

The railroad and airline industries are governed by the Federal Railway Labor Act (45 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.), originally passed in 1926 and substantially amended in 1934. Federal employees are covered by the separate Federal Service Labor Management and Employee Relation Act (5 U.S.C.A. §§ 7101 et seq.). Labor law is also made by the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (NLRB), an ADMINISTRATIVE AGENCY that enforces federal labor statutes, and by federal courts when they interpret labor legislation and NLRB decisions. In addition, state and municipal employees are covered by state law.

A basic principle of U.S. labor law is that the SUPREMACY CLAUSE of the Constitution authorizes Congress to prohibit states from using their powers to regulate labor relations. The ability of Congress to preempt state labor laws has been defined largely by the U.S. Supreme Court because the NLRA is imprecise about what states can and cannot do. The Court has set out two basic principles concerning PREEMPTION: not all state labor laws are preempted by federal statute, and conduct actually protected by the federal statutes is immune from state regulation. For example, VANDALISM committed by a union organizing campaign may be subject to state criminal and civil sanctions. A strike in an industry subject to the NLRA that is aimed at improving wages cannot be prohibited by the state.

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