Legislation and judicial decisions controlling labor union political activities in Great Britain and the United States
Parkhurst, Frederick W Jr
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The principal purpose of this thesis is to analyze the successes or failures, the legal and practical consequences of attempted limitations or prohibitions in Great Britain and in the United States, federal and state, on political activities in general, and specifically on the political activities of labor unions. This is done by a study of sources including judicial decisions; statutes; official documents; legislative debates, hearings, and committee reports; books; law review articles; various pamphlets; newspapers; general information; and the writer's knowledge and personal experience. The subject matter has been divided into three main sections as follows: The first chapter reviews the historical background and the development of labor union political activities and objectives in Great Britain and the United States, together with certain comparisons. It is noted that in the United btates labor unions engage in three kinds of political activities--support of candidates, promotion of legislation, and participation in administration. In Great Britain, labor adds to this list by sponsoring its own Labor Party financed by union funds. The chapter concludes with a discussion of labor's political potentials, touching upon whether American unions will also sponsor a Labor Party or continue to work within the Democratic Party. The second chapter considers those general controls over electoral conduct w-hich, while not aimed specifically at the unions, apply to all political activities. These "corrupt practices" provisions include publicity requirements and publicity pamphlets, expenditure limitations as to amounts and purposes, the restrictions on contributions, protections for public employees, various illegal practices, and other miscellaneous provisions governing elections, particularly relating to the conduct of candidates, parties, coimnittees, and their agents. It is pointed out that laws regulating party finance have been largely ineffective, and that adequate publicity would be more beneficial. The third chapter details the specific controls attempting to limit or prohibit the political activities of organized labor in Great Britain and the United States, the development of these controls, their history and provisions, and the practical results of these attempts. As in the case of many of the general controls dealt with in the second chapter, these specific controls have also largely failed and again is shown some of the pertinent reasons why these attempts have not been as effective as originally conceived by their authors. Particularly has this been true with the courts' refusal to enforce the political prohibitions of the Taft-Hartley Act's Section 304. The findings of the thesis are summarized and evaluated in the fourth chapter. It is concluded that labor unions are by necessity almost automatically in politics, that labor's political activities make a very definite contribution to democratic electoral and legislative processes, that prohibitions have failed on several grounds including constitutionality, and that among other recommendations the alternative of effective publicity should be the guiding principle of any regulatory program. At the same time, labor unions must assume the responsibilities of political statesmanship which accompany its ever-increasing political activities and programs. Although the Bibliography lists well over one hundred fifty sources, all of which have been referred to in the text of the thesis, there has been no previous extensive concentration of the scope of this paper and the writer hopes to have made a useful examination of a fascinating but as yet unsettled problem. The Appendix is a transctipt of the Senate question-and-answer debate on Section 304. It not only contains many of the arguments for and against labor union political activities, more of which were reported in greater detail in the thesis proper, but also is valuable for ascertainment of the legislative intent. However, this intent has not been recognized by the courts.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University
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