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It will come as no surprise that our attitude, as union spokesmen, toward further extension of the antitrust laws over the activities of American labor organizations is much like the attitude of Calvin Coolidge's minister toward sin: we're against it. We feel our attitude is justified. But in contributing to a volume graced by so distinguished a company of scholars, it may be best that we do not confine ourselves merely to developing our own case in support of a conclusion which some might accuse us of having harbored all along.

We therefore shall take two different approaches. First, we believe there has been enough discussion of labor and antitrust over the past decade to enable us now to state flatly that, except among certain popular publicists and certain ax-grinders, a large part of the argument has come to an end. A growing consensus exists among disinterested legal experts and labor economists on one simple but fundamental proposition. The antitrust laws as they now stand are not the appropriate vehicle for dealing generally with union economic power, and at least in the absence of much more proof of practical need they are probably not even the appropriate vehicle for dealing with certain alleged specific "abuses" of union economic power. The first portion of this paper will show why that proposition has properly come to command the assent of most nonpartisan labor specialists.

As our second contribution we shall submit data indicating that, whatever theoretical avenues for union economic abuses have been left open by current interpretations of the antitrust laws, in actual practice such abuses simply have not occurred on a scale sufficient to justify further legislative regulation. This does not necessarily mean that unions have a more sensitive social conscience than corporations, much as we might like to persuade ourselves that this was the fact. It may just mean that some old economic laws are proving even harder to repeal or amend than the laws of Congress. But in any event we take it that no sensible person will insist on tinkering with such complex mechanisms as the antitrust laws or established labor relations procedures merely to satisfy a passion for eliminating some theoretical possibility of wrongdoing. If real, substantial, unremedied abuses cannot be pinpointed, proposals for altering the status quo should be rejected.

In the course of our discussion we will also make a few passing remarks regarding labor's attitude toward the antitrust laws in their application outside the labor field.


Copyright Theodore J. St. Antoine and N. Goldfinger, Perspectives on Antitrust Policy, Princeton Univ. Press, 1965. This chapter is copyrighted and may not be reproduced or disseminated without the formal permission of Princeton University Press.