On this day in history, The Labor–Management Relations Act (Pub.L. 80-101, 61 Stat. 136) was passed over the veto of President Harry S. Truman. Informally called the Taft-Hartley Act after its main sponsors, Senator Robert Taft and Representative Fred A. Hartley, Jr., the law monitors the activities and power of labor unions.
The Taft–Hartley Act revised the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (the Wagner Act). It was seen as a means of demobilizing the labor movement by imposing limits on labor’s ability to strike and by prohibiting radicals from their leadership. The law was promoted by large business lobbies including the National Association of Manufacturers. Labor leaders dubbed it a “slave labor” bill and twenty-eight Democratic members of Congress declared it a “new guarantee of industrial slavery.”
The Taft-Hartley Act banned the “closed shop,” permitted the president to order “cooling-off” periods before strikes in critical industries, and reduced the budget of the Department of Labor. The Act allowed the President, when he believed that a strike would endanger national health or safety, to take measures to seek a federal court injunction to block or prevent the continuation of the strike.
While Truman vetoed the bill originally, he invoked it 10 times in the remaining six years of his presidency, far more than any other president.