Repeal Taft-Hartley

Written by Adriel Hampton. Posted in Opinion, Politics

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Published on July 05, 2009 with 3 Comments


By Adriel Hampton

July 5, 2009

Alongside my intense aversion to empire-building wars, the primary reason I am running for Congress is to ensure that California’s District 10 has a clear and strong voice for an economy centered around the working class. The representative I am running to succeed had long been one of Wall Street’s biggest cheerleaders, and far too many Democrats are sold out to lobbyists on health care, workers rights and the foreclosure crisis.

Too many politicians are also turning a tin ear to the cries of disempowered union workers in the private sector. Today, only 7.2 percent of the private sector is represented. In Congress, I would help turn the tide back in favor of the working class by immediately sponsoring legislation to repeal the 62-year-old Taft-Hartley Act. This heinous legislation, which crippled the union movement in concert with the rise of the military industrial complex, must go. And it’s time for Democrats to lead in putting it down.

Taft-Hartley, which passed over a Truman veto, included several key provisions that greased labor’s slide into near-powerlessness when pitted against global corporations.

– It created the “right-to-work” employee, who enjoys union benefits but pays no dues and has no job protection;

– Excluded supervisors and contractors from the definition of “employee,” pitting supervisors against their unionized subordinates and swelling the ranks of uninsured and unprotected temporary workers, a provision that also allowed companies to fire supervisors for siding with the union;

– Permitted employers to set the timing of a union election, undercutting organizing efforts;

– Gave employers the right to campaign against union organizing drives; and,

– Required 60-day notice before unions could strike over failure to reach a contract.


In 1948, a year after passage of Taft-Hartley, the California CIO Council wrote: “We’ve learned that this Act encourages police violence, labor spies and provocation—union smashing, strike busting and injunctions. The government has lined up with the employers.”

Since Taft-Hartley, union membership in the private sector has plummeted from 35 percent to the seven percent of today. At the same time, we are the first generation of Americans to earn less on average than our parents.

And much of the pain of the Act is now hidden, as governments abroad enforce our trade agreements and workers suffer and die for basic rights earned here a century ago. Today, instead of fighting the dominance of anti-human greed in our politics, we demonize each other and the flood of impoverished immigrants from the south that our economic policies have helped create.

End the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, end the war on labor, end the war on the poor.

Adriel Hampton is a journalist, Gov 2.0 and new media strategist, public servant, and licensed private investigator. He is running for U.S. Congress in the 2009 special election for California’s 10th District.

Adriel Hampton

Adriel Hampton is a writer, investigator, strategic consultant and mindfulness practitioner. He runs The Adriel Hampton Group Ltd. in San Francisco and Los Angeles, and was a founding member of NationBuilder. Adriel is founder emeritus of SF Tech Dems and a board member at Legination Inc. Before joining NationBuilder, Adriel worked for SF City Attorney Dennis Herrera, and for the SF Examiner, Hayward Daily Review and Lodi News-Sentinel. He also founded SF City Camp and Gov 2.0 Radio, and, in 2009, ran for Congress in the East Bay.

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  1. By the way, I should add that it speaks volumes that even in the most progressive and what passes for radical elements within the current labor movement, the Slave Labor Act is off the table.

  2. The only candidates running for office back in 2008 that called for the repeal of Taft-Hartley Act were Ralph Nader and Cindy Sheehan. I work for the post office and have been suspended on two occasions (I fought for and eventually received backpay) due to the draconian pettiness of the Taft-Hartley Act and the willingness of some co-workers that sold me up the river during a couple of election seasons for simply discussing politics within earshot. Some people were offended to my progressive views, and the post office attempted to use the ‘zero-tolerance’ policy they normally use for acts of violence and aggression, to suspend me for simply speaking my mind. Me and a few other SFLC delegates attempted to get CIndy, Ralph and Matt Gonzalez to speak before the SF Labor Council during election season, but to no avail..

  3. Sal Roselli gave a speech at the Socialist Convention this past weekend regarding the push for a more progressive union movement. After he spoke, I directly asked him about moving beyond the Employee Free Choice Act and pushing for the repeal of the Taft-Hartley Act (a.k.a. the Slave Labor Act). Unfortunately, I couldn’t really get a direct response out of him. He briefly mentioned some vague happy talk about the union movement being in a position to push for good reforms but he didn’t give a direct answer. Though he seemed nice, I kind of felt blown off.