9 Lab. Stud. J. 190 (1984-1985)
Constant Vigilance: The Heritage of the AFL's Response to Right to Work Legislation, 1943-1949

handle is hein.journals/labstuj9 and id is 192 raw text is: 









    Constant Vigilance: The Heritage of the

        AFL's Response to Right to Work
                 Legislation, 1943-1949


                           Gilbert J. Gall


  At the 1954 AFL   convention, general counsel J. Albert Woll pledged
the federation's constant vigilance against the growing Right to Work
movement.  In response to eight resolutions from affiliates on the subject
of Right to Work legislation, Woll informed the delegates that there was
simply no more  serious threat to organized labor than state union secu-
rity restrictions. For the most part, his and others' remarks on the subject
denounced  the traditional enemies of labor as instigators and promoters of
such legislation. In spite of that, a closer examination of the AFL's own
institutional response to the spread of anti-union-security measures re-
veals that the need for such vigilance resulted in part from the national
hierarchy's flawed strategy in dealing with the matter.
  From  1943, when  AFL  leaders first attempted to grapple with the prob-
lem,  to 1947,  when  the Taft-Hartley  Act's section  14(b) explicitly
granted states almost total jurisdiction over restrictions on union security,
the federation's national officers swiftly recognized that the Right to
Work  movement   was in truth a national campaign. Nevertheless, federa-
tion officials had difficulty in responding to a threat that was at once both
local and national, political and legal. In certain directions the AFL's


  Gilbert Gall is a graduate assistant in the Department of History, Wayne State Univer-
sity. An earlier version of this article was presented at the Southern Labor Studies Confer-
ence. The author thanks Diane L. Hammon, Roberta Till-Retz, George Green, and Stan-
ton Smith for their comments and suggestions.

  1. American Federation of Labor, Report of the Proceedings of the Seventy-third Annual Conven-
tion (Washington, D.C., 1954), pp. 191-192, 380, 399-419, 520.

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