Characterizing the Taft-Hartley law as "the perfect crime" against the cause of labor, Lee Pressman, general counsel for the Congress of Industrial Organizations, last night attacked the recent act section by section before a tightly-packed Law School crowd in Langdell Court. Pressman appeared as the guest of the University chapter of the National Lawyers Guild.
In a lengthy analysis of the most widely discussed provisions of the act, Pressman affirmed that it "for all practical purposes . . . has completely repealed the Wagner Act, and its protection for workers.
"This law is going to be used as a weapon-and a permanent weapon-against trade unions and their members," he declared, adding that its provisions would in effect nullify "whatever decent living conditions have been obtained up to this time under collective bargaining between employer and employee."
Pressman, who was graduated from the Law School in 1929, is in Boston for the CIO's ninth annual convention, which opened Monday at the Hotel Bradford.
Certificate Rule Attacked
Discussing the individual sections of the law, Pressman particularly condemned its restriction of union elections and negotiations until the union in question has been cleared by a certificate from the National Labor Relations Board. As a result of this provision, he said, two or three "stool pigeons" can delay progress of union activities indefinitely by swearing that they have been intimidated into joining the union.
The policy of many CIO locals, he added, will be to strike if the NLRB certificates are demanded by employers. He stressed that this policy has been formed "completely independently" of the other section of the law requiring the filling of affidavits of political affiliations by union heads.
In regard to the section making unions liable to federal suits, Pressman pointed out that, up until now, almost all states have authorized breach suits against unions, but that these have never been resorted to because collective bargaining was usually favored by both parties. The new provision, he said, will only encourage federal suits of unions which might otherwise be settled more suitably by collective bargaining.