American Unions

American Unions

Trace the evolution of the legal status of American unions. What activities were restricted by laws and courts Did constraints increase or decline with time
Organized workers in early America faced many legal challenges. The conspiracy doctrine effectively made most union activities unlawful. In 1842, the court ruled that membership alone was not unlawful. National trade unions began forming after 1850. The union movement over the last half of the 19th century almost became a revolution with strikes, brutal violence, political sabotage and assassinations. Violence became policy for both the unions and the management with which they disagreed. Using the Sherman Antitrust Act, employers charged that striking unions were illegally restraining trade and the courts agreed in many cases.
Several legal moves haled by the union leaders were passed and subsequently softened or defeated such as the Erdman Act and the Clayton Act. The Erdman act was found to be unconstitutional and the Clayton Act was so open to interpretation that it became untenable. This ruling was much like the Commonwealth vs. Hunt finding that while membership in a union was not illegal, the activities of members might be and

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