- Published: August 24, 2022
- Updated: August 24, 2022
- University / College: Northeastern University
- Language: English
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The Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA), also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 has brought about significant changes for U. S. labor unions. It is important to know what led to the creation of the act and how the act changed labor unions entirely. The paper will examine the history of labor crime on one of labor unions largest unions, the Teamsters. The paper will also discuss the creation of the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 and will examine the Landrum-Griffin Act in its entirety.
Labor Organized Crime A labor union is an organization of workers who join together to influence the nature of their employment. They seek to improve wages and benefits or protection against arbitrary treatment and discharge from their employers. The Philadelphia shoemakers formed the first permanent union back in 1794 along with the start of local craft unions. Throughout history labor unions fought for what they believed in and some even got involved in illegal criminal battles and conspiracies. During the 1950s labor unions had reached its toll.
A few of the unions had strayed away from the original purpose of a union and got involved in organized crime. It was evident when a journalist from New York appeared on national television with dark glasses and bandaged hands outraged from labor movement corruption. This journalist was blind from an acid attack linked to New York gangster Johnny Dio. For this purpose, the senate created a committee to investigate labor corruption. This committee, the Select Committee, also known as the McClellan Committee, was named after Arkansas Senator John McClellan who was appointed chairman and lawyer Robert Kennedy appointed as chief counsel.
One of the largest unions, formulated in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), also known as Teamsters, became involved in illegal schemes and was investigated for union corruption. The Teamsters is a union representing the trucking and construction industries. For years the Teamsters had been involved with bribes, embezzlement, and extensive extortion, along with, beatings, vandalism, and bombings all to take control of the trucking and construction industries (Teamsters, p. 5). The president at the time was Dave Beck, the head of 1. 4 million Teamster union members.
Mr. Beck was seen as a powerful, well connected and a greedy man. During his time as president, Beck had stolen $200, 000 from the union, which was said to be used to build a palatial home in Seattle, Washington. Beck also went as far as selling bow ties for $3. 50, all when Teamsters average salary was $5, 000. Upon investigation, Beck got caught and was convicted on tax evasion and grand larceny charges (American Decades, 2001). Jimmy Hoffa, Vice President of Teamsters, was eager to have Beck step down as president, so he could be president with the votes of the union members.
Hoffa’s scheme to unseat Beck caused a major national scandal. In an attempt to receive additional votes to take over as president, Hoffa engaged in connection with mobster Johnny Dio and both conspired to create 15 paper locals to up his delegate totals. Political foes of Hoffa became outraged after finding that the paper locals applied for charters from the international union. A dispute broke out within the Teamster on whether to charter the paper locals. This caused media attention by the U. S. Department of Justice and the Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations of the U.
S. Senate Committee on Government Operations (Teamsters, p. 5). The union was investigated by the McClellan Committee who was able to expose widespread corruption in the Teamsters Union. According to the history of the Teamsters (p. 5), Beck fled the country to avoid subpoenas, four of the paper locals were dissolved, and wiretaps of Hoffa and Dio were uncovered discussing creating more paper locals. Hoffa was arrested in March 1957 for bribing a Senate aide and denied all charges. His arrest led to other investigations and more arrests in the following weeks.
A $300, 000 loan was received by Beck from the Teamsters and was never repaid by him, which he admitted to. Altogether, $700, 000 in loans was distributed to Beck and other union officials unknowingly by the Teamsters. Beck stood before the Select committee where the committee invoked his Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination 117 times (Teamsters, pg 6). The McClellan Committee returned their focus on Hoffa and his union officials and alleged widespread corruption in Hoffa controlled Teamster units. According to the Labor Relations textbook (p. 32), the public soon learned about the links Hoffa with gangster Johnny Dio and “ other organized crime figures and their use of sweetheart contracts (in return for kickbacks, union officials would ignore and employers’ contract violations such as substandard wages, though they would still collect union dues), personal loans from union health and welfare funds, and violence to keep resistant employers and employees in line”. After all the scandals that were uncovered by the committee, Beck retired and Hoffa resumed presidency on February 1, 1958.
Hoffa’s scandals continued. The AFL-CIO expelled the Teamsters and other unions who were also apart of labor organized crime. The Creation of the Landrum-Griffin Act All through 1955-1956, the Senate committee met for hearings to uncover misuses in the administration of union pension funds. During 1957-1959, the McClellan committee had a series of hearings for improper activities in the Labor Management field. The McClellan Committee disclosed a lot of criminal acts among the unions.
The committee published 58 volumes of hearings and reports- 34 from the Teamsters and the rest on 4 other unions. What they found was that some unions were interfering with their members’ rights, violating democratic procedures in union elections, misappropriated union funds, failed to maintain proper records, and accepted bribes from management (NLRB, pg. 29). They concluded that rank and file members lacked voice and the right to vote, local and union finances were being abused by national union leaders, and violence was used to keep members in line.
The investigation had enough evidence to convince Congress and the public legislation that the internal affairs of the unions needed to be controlled and corrupt practices eliminated. In 1959, President Eisenhower announced over the radio and television of a new act signed into law, the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act, also known as the Landrum-Griffin Act. The act was named after its sponsors, Representative Phillip M. Landrum of Georgia and Senator Robert P. Griffin of Michigan. Both Landrum and Griffin went before Congress to introduce the Labor-Management Reform Bill.
Landrum stated “ I would call to the Members’ attention that the interim report of the McClellan committee found that there has been a significant lack of democratic processes in certain unions……and that through intimidation and fear, the rank-and-file union member has been deprived of a voice in his own union affairs” (Budd, 2010, p. 133). One union official remarked “ We believe that the control of the union by its membership is the best way to insure its democracy and keep the officers in line- I believe that the best demonstration of democracy in action, is where the people directly handle their own union business” (Budd, 2010, p. 33). Under the act, it provided a worker’s bill of rights, ensuring union members a voice in the running of his union and protecting him from intimidation. It also required all unions to provide detailed accounts of its finances and membership (American Decades, 2001). This was a start of eliminating labor racketeering in the unions. The Landrum-Griffin Act amended the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, and the Taft-Hartley Act amended the Wagner Act to address gaps in both Taft-Hartley and Wagner Acts, which both has looked to the rights of the employees’; to be free from employer domination.
The Landrum-Griffin Act looks to the rights of union members; to be free from union domination. According to National Labor Relations Board (n. d), the following amended the Taft-Hartley Act in these major respects (p. 30): • State courts and state labor relations boards were given jurisdiction over cases declined by the Board under its jurisdictional standards. • Secondary boycott prohibitions were tightened and hot cargo agreements (under which employers committed themselves in advance to boycott any other employer involved in a dispute with the union) were outlawed. A new unfair labor practice made it unlawful for a union to picket for recognition or organizational purposes in certain circumstances. • Pre-hired and seven-day union shop contracts were legalized for the construction industry. • Permanently replaced economic strikers were given the right to vote in representation elections within one year of the beginning of the strike. • The non-Communist affidavit provisions were repealed. • The Board was authorized to delegate most of its authority to define bargaining units and to direct elections to its regional directors, subject to discretionary review. Other parts of the new law established a code of conduct guaranteeing certain rights to union members within their union, and imposed reporting requirements on unions, union officers, employers, and consultants. These provisions were assigned for administration to the Department of Labor. Thus, the Landrum-Griffin protected employees’ union membership rights from unfair practices by unions, while the National Labor Relations Act protected employee rights from unfair practices by employers or unions. Landrum-Griffin Act The Landrum-Griffin Act handles all internal union affairs.
It grants union members rights and protects their interest in a democratic way. The act covers all unions, officers and employees of unions, union members, employers, labor relations consultants, surety companies, trusts in which a union is interested, and other ” persons” as defined in the LMRDA who may be covered by particular provisions of the act. It also covers unions representing U. S. Postal service employees. There are several major provisions that make up the Landrum-Griffin Act; these provisions are outlined in the U. S.
Department of Labor (2010) as the following: Title I- Bill of Rights of Members of Labor Organizations, the ” Bill of Rights,” sets forth certain basic rights that Congress believed federal law should guarantee to union members. These rights are set forth under the “ Employee Rights” section below. Members may enforce these rights through private suit in federal district court. The Secretary of Labor also has enforcement responsibilities with regard to an employee’s right to receive and inspect a collective bargaining agreement.
Title II- Reporting by Labor Organizations and Employers, requires unions to file an information report (Form LM-1), copies of their constitution and bylaws, and annual financial reports (Form LM-2, LM-3, or LM-4) with OLMS. The reports and documents filed with OLMS are public information, and any person may examine them or obtain copies at OLMS offices. Officers and employees of unions must file a Form LM-30 with OLMS if they have any loans or benefits from, or certain financial interests in, employers whose employees their union represents and businesses that deal with their union.
Employers who enter into such an agreement or engage in certain specified activities or financial dealings with their employees, union, union officers, or labor relations consultants must file a Form LM-10. Labor relations consultants, who enter into an agreement with an employer to persuade employees about their union activities, or to supply certain information to the employer, must file a Form LM-20, Agreement and Activities Report, and a Form LM-21, Receipts and Disbursements Report.
Finally, surety companies that issue bonds required by the LMRDA or the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) must file a Form S-1 to report data such as premiums received, total claims paid, and amounts recovered. The Secretary of Labor has authority to enforce the reporting requirements of the Act. Title III- Trusteeships, concerns the imposition of trusteeships over subordinate unions. A parent union may impose a trusteeship only for a purpose specified in the LMRDA, and it must establish and administer the trusteeship in accordance with its own constitution and bylaws.
A parent union that places a subordinate union in trusteeship must file initial, semiannual, and terminal trusteeship reports (Forms LM-15, LM-15A, and LM-16). Under the LMRDA, the parent union may not engage in certain specified acts involving the funds and delegate votes from a union under trusteeship. The Secretary of Labor has the authority to investigate and enforce alleged violations of Title III, and a union member or subordinate union may also enforce the provisions of this title, except for the reporting requirements, through private suit in federal district court.
Properly imposed trusteeships are presumed to be valid for a period of 18 months and are presumed to be invalid after that period. Title IV- Union Elections, establishes standards for elections of union officers. Among other things, local unions must elect their officers by secret ballot; national and international unions and intermediate bodies must elect their officers either by secret ballot of the members or by delegates chosen by secret ballot.
Title IV requires elections to be held by national and international unions at least every five years; intermediate bodies at least every four years; and local unions at least every three years. Unions and employers may not use their funds to promote the candidacy of any candidate, although union funds may be used to conduct an election. A union member in good standing has the right to nominate candidates, be a candidate subject to reasonable qualifications uniformly imposed, hold office, and support and vote for the candidates of the member’s choice.
Unions must mail a notice of election to every member at the member’s last-known home address at least 15 days before the election. A union member has the right under Title IV to file a complaint with OLMS regarding the conduct of a union officer election within one calendar month after meeting certain conditions. Before filing an election complaint with OLMS, a member must have either exhausted internal election remedies within the union, or pursued them for three months without obtaining a final decision from the union.
The Secretary of Labor has authority to file suit in a federal district court to set aside an invalid union election and to request a new election under the supervision of the Secretary. Title V- Safeguards, provides a number of safeguards for unions. Union officers have a duty to manage the funds and property of the union solely for the benefit of the union in accordance with its constitution and bylaws. A union may not have outstanding loans to any one officer or employee that exceed $2, 000.
Union officials who handle union funds or property must be bonded to provide protection against losses. A union officer or employee who embezzles or otherwise misappropriates union funds or other assets commits a federal crime punishable by a fine and/or imprisonment. Persons convicted of certain crimes, including a violation of Title II or III of the LMRDA, may not hold union office or employment for up to 13 years after conviction or the end of imprisonment.
Title VI- Miscellaneous Provisions, includes the authority to investigate (see ” Penalties/Sanctions” below); a prohibition on a union fining, suspending, expelling, or otherwise disciplining members for exercising their rights under the LMRDA; and a prohibition on the use or threat of force or violence to interfere with a union member in the exercise of LMRDA rights. Title VII, NLRA Amendments, amends the Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA), otherwise known as the Taft-Hartley Act, concerning strikes, boycotts, and picketing. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)(http://www. lrb. gov/), an independent federal agency, administers the LMRA. In conclusion, labor unions had come a long way from shady and untrustworthy union officials to a more organized labor union under the Landrum-Griffin Act. This paper examined the history of labor crime on one of labor unions largest unions, the Teamsters. It also discussed the creation of the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 and examined the Landrum-Griffin Act in its entirety. References 1. Budd, John W. (2010). Labor Relations. New York, New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin. 2. International Brotherhood of Teamsters, (n. d. ).
International Brotherhood of Teamsters. Retrieved 7 February 2011 from http://www. teamster. org. 3. National Labor Relations Board, (n. d. ). The First Sixty Years. Retrieved 4 February 2011 from http://www. nlrb. gov/nlrb/shared_files/brochures/60yrs_26-30. pdfx. 4. The McClellan Committee and Labor Racketeering. (2001). American Decades. Retrieved 4 February 2011 from http://www. encyclopedia. com/doc/1G2-3468301939. html. 5. U. S. Department of Labor. (n. d. ). The Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act. Retrieved 01February 2011 from http://www. dol. gov/compliance/laws/comp-lmrda. htm.