The term “Law of the Jungle” is an expression often meaning “every man for himself,” “survival of the fittest” or “anything goes.” A term that also referred to as the time period prior to the Wagner Act enacted in 1935. A time in which collective bargaining existed in theory but not fairly practice between unions and employers. When practiced fairly, collective bargaining allows workers to achieve a form of democracy within the workplace; thus allowing for a form of rules to be upheld by both the employer and the employees. Unions have given employees a platform in which their voices will be heard. This paper will provide an overview of both the pre-Wagner Act days and the influential post 1932 collective bargaining statutes, as well as the advisability of eliminating the post-1932 statutes.
From the beginning of labor unions we have seen dramatic ups and downs resulting in almost complete devastation on various occasions. Union membership started out strong with 300,000 members in 1836, but fell drastically to only 50,000 members in 1878 following the countries deep five year economic depression. As a result of unions weakening, employers began to turn against what was left of the organized labor unions. They engaged in frequent lockouts, hired spies to ferret out union sympathizers, circulated the names of such sympathizers to fellow employers creating black-lists, and engaged the service of strikebreakers on a widespread scale. (Slone/Witney, 2010) In response to such attacks by the employers, both unionists and nonunionized workers retaliated. Secret societies were formed were formed, the most infamous Molly Maguires were known for their murders and acts of arson. Unfortunately most if not all of the good these societies were trying to bring was out shadowed by their delivery.
These attacks from employers continued in various ways because at the time there was no law that permitted them from doing so. Each union issue was presented to individual judges that would exercise control over the labor relations as a whole in the United States. For the most part judges were unsympathetic to union actives and generally sided against them. This treatment of labor-management relations was seen from the American Revolution until the Great Depression of the 1930’s.
It is said that the Great Depression gave labor unions a golden opportunity for the revival and growth with the much needed governmental encouragement. The years following the devastating Great Depression of late 1929 and early 1930’s marked a significant change in public policy from repression to strong encouragement of union activity starting with the first major federal legislation to be applied to collective bargaining, the Norris-LaGuardia Act. (Sloane/Witney, 2010) The following acts are the most major laws governing labor-management relations to date:
Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932: This particular act revoked the...