The Union Security Issue

AuthorLloyd G. Reynolds,Charles C. Killingsworth
Published date01 November 1942
Date01 November 1942
DOIhttp://doi.org/10.1177/000271624222400106
Subject MatterArticles
32
The
Union
Security
Issue
By
LLOYD
G.
REYNOLDS
and
CHARLES
C.
KILLINGSWORTH
ONCE
of
the
earliest
demands
of
American
trade
unionists
was
for
a
closed
or
union
shop.
Even
before
the
establishment
of
collective
bargain-
ing
procedures
the
Philadelphia
cord-
wainers
attempted
to
force
their
em-
ployers
to
employ
no
one
but
members
of
their
association.
These
demands
appeared
outrageous
to
employers
and
to
most
of
the
judges
before
whom
unionists
were
brought
on
conspiracy
charges.
In
1842,
however,
Chief
Jus-
tice
Shaw,
of
Massachusetts,
held
that
strengthening
of
union
organization
was
a
legitimate
objective
and
that
a
strike
to
enforce
a
closed
shop
was
not
unlaw-
ful.’
While
this
view
has
never
been
adopted
in
all
of
the
state
jurisdic-
tions,
the
union
shop
has
continued
to
be
an
aspiration
of
most
American
trade
unions.
An
examination
of
the
7,000
trade
agreements
on
file
with
the
Bureau
of
Labor
Statistics
in
1939
shows
that
more
than
half
of
them
contain
some
type
of
union
shop
clause.
By
1941
it
was
estimated
that
approximately
4,000,000
workers
were
covered
by
union
shop
contracts.
The
arguments
currently
presented
to
the
National
War
Labor
Board
bear
a
strong
family
resemblance
to
those
pre-
sented
in
Commonwealth
v.
Hunt.
Em-
ployers
argue
that
the
union
shop
is
an
intolerable
abrogation
of
individual
liberty
and
that
in
a
democratic
coun-
try
every
man
should
be
free
to
decide
for
himself
whether
or
not
he
wishes
to
belong
to
a
union.
The
unions
reply
that
all
workers
who
enjoy
representa-
tion
by
a
union
and
who
share
in
the
advantages
which
the
union
is
able
to
gain
should
contribute
to
its
support.
They
contend
that
compulsory
union
membership
is
no
more
a
violation
of
individual
liberty
than
compulsory
citi-
zenship.
Beneath
these
moralistic
argu-
ments
lies
the
indisputable
fact
that
union
shop
agreements
contribute
to
a
union’s
strength
and
prestige,
and
are
an
indication
that
it
has
achieved
per-
manent
status
in
an
industry.
Em-
ployer
opposition
to
the
union
shop
stems
largely
from
apprehension
con-
cerning
the
consequences
of
a
strength-
ened
and
permanent
union.
Many
em-
ployers
suspect
that
a
secret
objective
of
modern
unionism
is
actual
participa-
tion
in
the
entrepreneurial
function
and
that
the
union
shop
is
merely
one
step
toward
the
achievement
of
this
long-
range
goal.
This
view
was
expressed
recently
by
an
employer
member
of
the
National
War
Labor
Board:
&dquo;Auto-
matically
such
a
policy
leads
to
union
shop,
closed
shop,
control
of
hiring,
and
finally,
the
transfer
to
others
of
the
rights
and
obligations
of
management. 11
2
When
both
sides
feel
that
the
issue
is
practically
one
of
survival,
compromise
becomes
very
difficult.
Particularly
in
time
of
national
crisis
an
issue
fraught
with
such
high
emotional
content
is
dangerous
in
the
extreme.
UNION
STATUS
IN
WORLD
WAR
I
During the
first
World
War
the
union
shop
did
not
become
a
major
issue
be-
cause
of
the
relative
immaturity
of
union
organization.
The
proclamation
creating
the
National
War
Labor
Board
attempted
to
freeze
union
status
for
the
duration
of
the
war.
The
Board
was
not
to
order
a
union
shop
where
it
had
not
previously
prevailed
nor
consent
to
abrogation
of
union
shop
agreements
al-
1
Commonwealth
v.
Hunt,
4
Metcalf
111,
45
Mass.
111
(1842).
2
Dissenting
opinion
of
Mr.
Roger
D.
Lap-
ham
in
the
Walker-Turner
case
(Case
No.
17,
April
8,
1942).
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