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Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Amending the Taft-Hartley Act.

October 22, 1951

I HAVE today signed S. 1959, a bill which makes certain revisions in the Taft-Hartley Act. This legislation eliminates the present requirement that a special election be conducted by the National Labor Relations Board before a union shop provision may be included in a collective bargaining contract. In addition, the measure preserves several thousand representation elections and collective bargaining contracts which are threatened by a recent Supreme Court decision.

These are desirable changes in the act. Union shop elections have involved expenditures in excess of $3,000,000 of public funds. Experience has proved them to be not only costly and burdensome, but unnecessary as well. In practically every election the employees have confirmed their desire for the union shop agreement. Indeed, even in those cases where both the employer and the union were in complete agreement on the desirability of the union shop, the Government nevertheless was compelled to conduct the needless election. The elimination of this requirement as to future cases is clearly a move in the right direction.

In addition, by affirming various actions of the National Labor Relations Board in past cases, this measure will avoid the costs involved in both the repetition of elections and the invitation to wasteful controversy. Of even greater importance is the fact that the protection accorded by this bill to outstanding certifications will .prevent the disruption of stable labor-management relations during this crucial period in our mobilization effort.

While the sensible economies and the protection of stable industrial relations effected by this bill are salutary, I welcome its enactment for an even more fundamental reason. On numerous occasions, I have stated that the major objection to many of the provisions of the Taft-Hartley Act is their basic hostility to collective bargaining. Instead of creating an atmosphere within which management and labor may come to an agreement on the basis of mutual respect and common interest, the act imposes artificial restraints upon parties engaged in collective bargaining. Although S. 1959 eliminates only one of the act's defects, it nevertheless constitutes recognition by the Congress of the necessity to move in the direction of a new statutory framework--one which will enable both management and labor to conduct their affairs without arbitrary Government intervention in the collective bargaining process. It is my hope that this step toward improvement of our labor relations laws is the forerunner of the future development of sound legislation behind which labor, management, Government, and the public may unite to achieve industrial peace and economic progress in the national interest.

Note: As enacted, S. 1959 is Public Law 189, 82d Congress (65 Stat. 601).

For the text of the President's message upon vetoing the Taft-Hartley Act, see 1947 volume, this series, Item 120.

Harry S Truman, Statement by the President Upon Signing Bill Amending the Taft-Hartley Act. Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project https://www.presidency.ucsb.edu/node/231106

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