Erdman Act 30 Stat. 424 (1898)

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ERDMAN ACT 30 Stat. 424 (1898)

The report of a commission appointed by President grover cleveland to investigate the Pullman strike of 1894 (see in re debs) prompted this act, one of the earliest federal acts providing for the arbitration of railway labor disputes. The act applied to all railroads and their employees engaged in interstate commerce and provided mediation of any labor dispute "seriously interrupting or threatening to interrupt" interstate commerce. If mediation failed to resolve the dispute, the parties could turn to an arbitration board whose award would be binding and enforceable through equity proceedings. Neither strikes nor lockouts were permitted during arbitration or ninety days after an award. Section 10 made it a misdemeanor for any employer to require, as a condition of employment, any discriminatory agreements, particularly with regard to union membership. Clearly aimed at outlawing yellow dog contracts, section 10 fell in Adair v. United States (1906) as a violation of freedom of contract. The act otherwise operated quite successfully, and Congress fortified its mediation provisions in 1913. A bitter nationwide strike in which both sides refused to invoke mediation, however, forced replacement of the act three years later with the adamson eight-hour act.

David Gordon


Taylor, Benjamin J. and Witney, Fred 1971 Labor Relations Law, 2nd ed. Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall.