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36 Cornell L. Q. 600 (1950-1951)
Book Reviews

handle is hein.journals/clqv36 and id is 625 raw text is: BOOK REVIEWS
The New Deal Collective Bargaining Policy. By IRVING BERNSTEIN. Berke-
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press. 1950. Pp. xi, 149.
A fundamental policy question has agitated students of labor problems for
the past 15 years. This question has been whether it was wise or sound to have
the federal government affirmatively assist the labor unions in the early 30's.
It has been suggested that the labor unions ultimately would have been better
off if the federal government had not gone beyond the Norris-LaGuardia Act.
Supporters of the latter policy maintain that Wagner Acts lead to Taft-
Hartley Acts. It has been urged, that which the government bestows, the
government can remove. The proponents of this view say that the government
should only prevent affirmative restraints such as undue and unreasonable use
of the equity powers of the courts; that if and when the flagrant abuses of
the Chancellor in Equity are checked, the labor movement should seek no
further aid from the government. The labor movement, it is maintained, is
better off if the government does not determine what are and what are not
the proper subjects of collective bargaining; if the government does not de-
termine who is or who is not the appropriate bargaining agent for the desig-
nated unit of employees. The inevitable conclusion of such a policy will lead
to regulation of the internal affairs of the union by the government, and some
day that government may not be too favorably inclined.
Professor Bernstein in his compact and scholarly volume sets forth the
political and economic climate which compelled Senator Wagner and his allies
to press for enactment of the Wagner Act in which the above mentioned policy
was rejected. In nine chapters he tersely and cogently sets forth the condition
of the labor movement in the decade prior to the New Deal which motivated
the demand for the National Labor Relations Act and the legislative battle
whch ensued before the bill became law.
The chapters are in the main self descriptive and are captioned: The Con-
dition of the Labor Movement; Sources of Ideas; The First Step: Section 7
(a); Broadening The Railway Labor Act; Policy Emerges, the 1934 Wagner
Bill; The President Hesitates: Public Resolution 44; Wagner Tries Again:
The National Labor Relations Bill; Order of Battle; The Birth of the Wagner
Act. Chapter Ten is called a National Labor Policy and is a summary of the
work as well as an analysis of the legislation, an evaluation of the arguments
advanced in behalf and in opposition to the Act and the consequences of the
statute as expressed in the development of collective bargaining.
There is a certain timeliness to the arguments which were advanced against
the Wagner Act in 1933-35. They have been echoed and re-echoed for the
past fifteen years and were the same arguments which ultimately prevailed
through the enactment of the Taft-Hartley Law.
The work indicates the adversaries of the bill were legion. In reading the
book, it is somewhat startling (at least to this reader) to learn that President
Roosevelt was never very enthusiastic for Senator Wagner's proposals and
most reluctantly and tardily gave the measure administration support. An-
other opponent of the Act was Secretary of Labor Perkins. Above all, she
wanted the agency to be part of the Department of Labor and not to have
any independent status. Donald Richberg, as General Counsel of the NRA,
was an intransigent foe. He differed violently with Wagner over the concept
of majority versus proportional representation. The American Federation of
Labor supported the measure as long as Senator Wagner subscribed whole-

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