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Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

2012

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The Striking Success Of The National Labor Relations Act, Michael L. Wachter Dec 2012

The Striking Success Of The National Labor Relations Act, Michael L. Wachter

Faculty Scholarship at Penn Law

Although often viewed as a dismal failure, the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) has been remarkably successful. While the decline in private sector unionization since the 1950s is typically viewed as a symbol of this failure, the NLRA has achieved its most important goal: industrial peace.

Before the NLRA and the 1947 Taft-Hartley Amendments, our industrial relations system gave rise to frequent and violent strikes that threatened the nation’s stability. For example, in the late 1870s, the Great Railroad Strike spread throughout a number of major cities. In Pittsburg alone, strikes claimed 24 lives, nearly 80 buildings, and over ...