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Now that Justice Roberts has snatched the Wagner Act from the ignoble grave to which other Constitutional authorities had prematurely consigned it, Congress must consider the criticisms that have been leveled at certain portions of the Act. A reading of the measure will convince most people that some provisions are definitely one sided and so will inevitably prove unworkable when submitted to the test of experience.
In forcing the employer to bargain collectively with union representatives while permitting labor to dissent from any National Labor Board decision by striking, the Wagner Act imposes one sided obligations on the employer. Thus employer hostility to the act is unnecessarily created. Collective bargaining cannot be effective when it is imposed on a reluctant employer in behalf of a labor union for which he lacks respect. Only when the employer bargains sincerely because of his respect for a capably led union will collective bargaining bring results. The sooner Congressmen realize that employer self interest and not government compulsion makes collective bargaining work, the sooner they will climinate a useless, unworkable and irritating section of the Act.
That however is not the worst feature of the Act. Those provisions which allow a bare majority of workers in a plant to bargain collectively for the entire employed staff, are so obviously dangerous as scarcely to require comment. Any arrangement which allows the imposition of the will of 51% of workers, and constitutes that 51% as the sole bargaining representatives of the entire number of employees, is not an arrangement that safeguards the best interests of all the workers. There might better be no collective bargaining at all, rather than allowing a bare majority of workers to be the sole agents on questions of wages, hours, and conditions of labor.
And until the National Labor Board, already shown to be woefully weak in its failure to effect any settlement of the General Motors strike, makes it eminently clear that it will not tolerate the rights of a majority of the workers to be trampled upon, or until Congress repeals those provisions of the Act, it seems clear that the reign of sit-down strikes and general, unhealthy labor unrest will continue unchecked.
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