back to Federal Labor Law Topical Outline: Internal union regulation

Background and Overview of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, 1959


  1. For a history of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, detailing the hearings and debate involved in this statute's development see, U.S. Department of Labor. (1964). Legislative History of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. Titles I-VI. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.; Bureau of National Affairs. (1959). The Labor Reform Law. (cited hereafter as Labor Reform) Bureau of National Affairs: Washington, D.C.; Nation Labor Relations Board. (1959). Legislative History of the Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959. Volumes I and II. Government Printing Office: Washington, D.C.
  2. Malin, M.K. (1988). Individual Rights Within the Union. (cited hereafter as Individual Rights) The Bureau of National Affairs, Inc.: Washington, D.C. p. 34.
  3. The question of a union's legal existence was determined in Mine Workers v. Coronado Coal Co., 259 U.S. 344 (1922) were an unincorporated association, the United Mine Workers Union, was sued for breach of the Sherman Act. Another issue is whether a contract is formed between the labor organization and the member through the union's constitution and bylaws, see Plumbers & Pipefitters v. Local 334, 452 U.S. 615, 107 LRRM 2715 (1981).
  4. Supra, note 2, p. 38 and McLaughlin, D.B. and Schoomaker, A.L.W. (1979). The Landrum-Griffin Act and Union Democracy. (cited hereafter as Union Democracy) The University of Michigan Press: Ann Arbor, Michigan. p. 75, footnote 2 and p.118.
  5. Labor Reform. p. 18 and Union Democracy. p. 74.
  6. McAdams, A. K. 1964. Power and Politics in Labor Legislation. (cited hereafter as Power and Politics.) Columbia University Press: New York. p. 268.
  7. Power and Politics. p. 9.
  8. Labor Reform. p. 1.
  9. Individual Rights. p. 35. The unions that the McClellan Committee concentrated on were the International of Brotherhood of Teamsters, the Bakery and Confectionery Workers International Union of America, the United Textile Workers of America, the International Union of Operating Engineers and the Allied Industrial Workers of America.
  10. Ibid., Some of the management consults that the McClellan Committee investigated were N. W. Shefferman, V. I. Squillante, M. Miller and the firm of Equitable Research Associates.
  11. Power and Politics. pp. 267-269.
  12. Ibid., pp. 270-272.
  13. 29 USC §§411—415.
  14. 29 USC §§431—441.
  15. 29 USC §§461—466.
  16. 29 USC §§481—483.
  17. 29 USC §§501—504.
  18. 29 USC §§521—531.
  19. Labor Reform. p. 2. For limitations of the Department of Labor, see pp. 3-4 of Union Democracy. See also, Chapter VI, "Enforcement by the Department of Labor" pp. 167-177.
  20. Williams v. International Typographical Union, 423 F2d 1295, 73 LRRM 2849 (10th Cir. 1970) as cited in Labor Law Journal 31(5). p. 274.
  21. Union Democracy. pp. 4-5.

Neither the Wagner nor the Taft-Hartley Act1 devoted much attention to union's internal affairs2

  • Union internal affairs had not received a great deal of attention.
    • Unions were looked at as voluntary associations.3
    • State laws4 were the source of precedent for union regulation.
  • First call for voluntary regulation of internal union affairs came from the American Civil Liberties Union.5

Political climate in 1958

  • 1958 elections produced a sweep for the Democrats. Senate went from a 50/46 Democratic/Republican mix to one of 64/36, favoring the Democrats. A similar situation took place in the House. It went from a composition of 231/230, Democrats to Republicans to one of 283/153, Democrats to Republicans.
  • Unions vigorously backed candidates opposed to the right-to-work statutes present on many state ballots. Unions were able to assist legislators into office, but were unable to use it to labor's benefit.6
  • There was fear among the conservatives that the "Labor Bosses" would be running Congress. This combined with the lawmakers' need to show "'responsibility' by passing labor reform legislation"7 to produce a number of bills designed to address the problems brought to light by the McClellan Committee.

Senate Select Committee on Improper Activities in the Labor or Management Field, also known as, the McClellan Committee.

  • The labor and management problems of the day were broadcast for the first time by television into the homes of America, providing fodder for the opponents of organized labor.
  • The pendulum that begun the swing away from a favorable labor perspective with the passing of the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, continued the journey with the passage of the LMRDA. The McClellan Committee "complied a monumental record of wrong doing on the part of certain unions and their officers; of coercion of employees and smaller employers through the use of secondary boycotts, hot cargo agreements, and organizational picketing; and of shady dealings and interference with employees' rights by certain 'middlemen' serving as management consultants."8
  • Corruption charges were initially brought against both labor9and management.10 The emphasis changed over time to concentrate on unions, in particular, the Teamsters Union and its charismatic leader, James T. Hoffa.

Labor Reform Legislation Introduced

  • Kennedy-Ives.
  • Kennedy-Ervin.
  • McClellan amendment -- "Bill of Rights."
  • Committee Bill, Shelly Bill, Landrum-Griffin (incorporating the Administration Bill).
  • Presidential appeal in support of Landrum-Griffin.

Labor's misread of their Congressional influence and other factors contributing to Landrum-Griffin being passed.

Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act

  • A Labor Congress?
    • As stated above (2(B)), Labor was unable to count on support from legislators that it believed it had help get elected. Labor was also unable to accurately gauge its influence or the political reality after the election.11
    • The conflict within the AFL-CIO.
      • The structure of the confederation was not conducive to presenting a united front12 .
      • Turmoil between the AFL, which was seeking legislative protections for craft unions and the CIO, which had concerns as to how their unions would be affected by the reform laws.
    • Labor's inability to clean its own house.
      • The AFL-CIO instituted a code of ethics and expelled several unions for internal corruption.
      • Labor was trying to upgrade its public image through the above actions, but it was seen as insufficient to combat the problem.
    • LMRDA contains seven "Titles." Titles I -- VI were aimed ensuring democracy within the unions. Title VII contained amendments to the National Labor Relations Act.
      • Title I13-- Union member's "Bill of Rights" (to be covered in Outline XXXVIII, below)
      • Title II14 -- Reporting by Labor Organizations (to be covered in Outline XXXX, below)
      • Title III15 -- Trusteeships (also in Outline XXXX)
      • Title IV16 -- Elections of Union Officials (to be covered in Outline XXXIX)
      • Title V17 -- Safeguards for Labor Organizations (to be covered in Outline XXXX)
      • Title VI18 -- Miscellaneous ProvisionsTitle VII -- Taft-Hartley Amendments. Federal-State jurisdictional issues, economic strikers' voting rights, acting General Counsel of NLRB, the secondary boycott provisions, hot-cargo agreements, organizational and recognitional picketing, construction industry contracts and priority of discrimination cases.
    • The Secretary of Labor is the watchdog for compliance with many of the Act's requirements.19
    • The extent of the LMRDA.
    • The LMRDA originally did not extend coverage to unionized public sector workers.
      • Executive Order No. 1149120 (1969) "gives federal employees protection akin to that of the" Act.
      • The Postal Reorganization Act (1970) brought postal workers under the Act.
      • The Department of Labor also includes public sector employees under the Act, if the union to which they belong is also comprised of private sector workers.
      • Central union bodies, such as the AFL-CIO, are not included because of their lack of participation in the actual collective bargaining process.
      • Nonunion employees21 whose terms and conditions of employment are set by a union are not protected.