Beyond the Labor Board

Max Fraser's piece in the Nation describes the damage done to labor rights by the extremely partisan, Bush-appointed (a redundant formulation, I know) National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). It interestingly notes that much of the weakness of the current labor movement and decline in union membership harks back to the 1947 Taft-Hartley act, which restricted workers' right to strike. He explains that before the act, workers rallied effectively for rights by relying upon the Thirteenth Amendment to the Constitution, which outlawed slavery:

AMENDMENT XIII

Passed by Congress January 31, 1865. Ratified December 6, 1865.

Note: A portion of Article IV, section 2, of the Constitution was superseded by the 13th amendment.

Section 1. Neither slavery nor involuntary servitude, except as a punishment for crime whereof the party shall have been duly convicted, shall exist within the United States, or any place subject to their jurisdiction.

Section 2. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation.

Perhaps here as in so many areas of our country right now, it is time to hark back to the words of the Constitution to inspire social action, rather than to laws that have progressively chipped away at our freedom and rights.

–Suzanne Verderber

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