Norris-Laguardia Act 47 Stat. 70 (1932)

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NORRIS-LAGUARDIA ACT 47 Stat. 70 (1932)

Reeling from a string of adverse court decisions, labor saw the Norris-LaGuardia Act of 1932 as Congress's long overdue remedy for Supreme Court antipathy. A panel of experts, including Professor felix frankfurter, helped to draft a bill to end the abuse of labor injunctions, and, as eventually passed by large majorities in Congress, the act greatly diminished the use of federal injunctions in labor disputes. The act recognized the need for collective bargaining and encouraged union formation, ending years of misinterpretation of the spirit, if not the letter, of the clayton act. One of the key provisions of the new act (section 4) outlawed the issuance of federal injunctions against those who "whether acting singly or in concert" might strike, aid, or publicize strikes, join unions, or assemble peacefully. yellow dog contracts, sustained in hitchman coal coke company v. mitchell (1917), were also rendered unenforceable (section 3). In duplex printing press company v. deering (1921) the Court had unjustifiably declared that the Clayton Act provision covering labor disputes applied only to related parties, employer and employee, not to those engaged in a secondary boycott. Section 13 rewrote that practice by redefining "labor dispute" so that the parties need no longer be in "proximate relation" to each other. Although the act divested federal courts of injunctive power, it provided exceptions where illegal acts or injury were likely. Moreover, the employers had to make "every reasonable effort" to negotiate a settlement before seeking an injunction (section 8).

The act's explicitly stated purpose was to foster labor's right to organize and act without federal judicial interference. The act created no new substantive rights but enlarged the area in which labor could operate. The act's procedures would be upheld in Lauf v. E. G. ShinnerCompany (1938) and its substance upheld in New Negro Alliance v. Sanitary Grocery Company (1938).

David Gordon