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The IndustrialistsHow the National Association of Manufacturers Shaped American Capitalism$
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Jennifer A. Delton

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691167862

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: September 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691167862.001.0001

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The Road to Taft-Hartley

The Road to Taft-Hartley

(p.135) 6 The Road to Taft-Hartley
The Industrialists

Jennifer A. Delton

Princeton University Press

This chapter considers the National Association of Manufacturers' (NAM) most stunning achievement—the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. Condemned by labor, liberals, and most historians, the Taft-Hartley Act curbed union gains and allegedly marked a turn to the right. But it also represented NAM's acceptance of collective bargaining with industry-wide unions. It was a peace of sorts, a settlement, in NAM's long-running war against big unions. It was NAM “moderates” who advocated for what became the Taft-Hartley Act, not the conservative hardliners. Taft-Hartley required businesses to accept the legitimacy of unions and collective bargaining. In exchange, the act put limitations on unions' right to strike, while expanding management's right to manage. Hard-line conservatives rejected this compromise, while NAM's more moderate and pragmatic conservatives were able to unite all of the major business groups around it, a rare moment of real leadership for NAM at a time when the direction of the US economy was up for grabs.

Keywords:   World War II, Taft-Hartley Act, US economy, collective bargaining, NAM, industrywide unions, National Association of Manufacturers

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