Taft Hartley (1948)
According to a congressman who helped shaped Taft-Hartley, the Hollywood union conflicts were “a very, very important consideration when we were drafting” the legislation. Film labor historian Gerald Horne writes, “The formulators of the Taft-Hartley legislation…were influenced profoundly by the startling scenes of violence from Hollywood and the torturous elections and jurisdictional battles that characterized union struggles there” (Horne 2001:15).
Taft-Hartley was also part of a general pattern of legislation: It is characteristic of American labor history that during the war periods, workers are granted certain powers and freedoms in order to encourage them to support the war. World War II was such a moment. American workers not only felt their power, but knew that it was with their help that America won the War (Nicholson 2004).
It is also characteristic that after a war is over, big business—with government support–clamps down on labor power and re-constrains and discourages workers. The Taft Hartley Act (1948) stripped the labor movement of its power in many ways. Among those most significant parts of Taft Hartley for film workers, and for Hollywood film production that did not occur in Hollywood, were that the Act demanded that union members sign an oath declaring they were not a members of the Communist Party, and created “right to work” states where big business could operate unfettered by unions (Henretta et. al. 2002, Nicholson 2004).