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Power begets regulation. As union strength grew during recent decades, the federal laissez-faire policy of Norris-LaGuardia and the original Wagner Act gave way to increasingly tighter controls under Taft-Hartley and Landrum-Griffin. Considering the favored position of economic efficiency in our national ethos, it is not surprising that a significant portion of the new controls were directed at union practices which were thought to impede the fullest utilization of employers' productive resources. From time to time, however, thoughtful observers have questioned whether our legal regulation of union activity was properly attuned to the actual needs and economic power of labor and management. Put another way, the problem is that not only does power beget regulation; too often, perhaps, the mere appearance of power begets regulation.

I wish I could announce that I am going to supply a definitive blueprint for constructing a rational system for regulating union-restrictive practices - union practices, that is, which limit an employer's freedom in choosing his tools and products, his production techniques, and the persons with whom he will deal. Unhappily, all I can announce is the start, rather than the completion, of a project aimed at shedding some light on the way the law does affect such union restrictive practices, on the way it could affect them and on the way it should affect them. What I would like to share with you is my initial, tentative thinking on the kinds of data we need, and on the use we can make of the information once we have assembled it. I would welcome suggestions on additional questions that should be asked, and opinions on the relevance of this whole inquiry. To keep the discussion within reasonably manageable proportions, I'm going to confine my remarks to secondary boycotts, hot-cargo agreements, and the antitrust Implications of union behavior. Obviously, it would be entirely appropriate to deal in addition with jurisdictional disputes and featherbedding. Those topics are omitted simply to avoid a total surrender to diffuseness.


Reprinted from Labor Law Developments with permission. Copyright 1968 Matthew Bender & Company, Inc., a LexisNexis Company. All rights reserved.