• May 5, 2020

The History of Taft-Hartley and Your Retirement

This article will discuss the history and basic tenets of Taft-Hartley.

Let’s start at the beginning: The Wagner Act.

The Wagner Act

The Wagner Act was the most important labor law in American history. It covered nearly all firms and employees in activities affecting interstate commerce. It gave workers the right to organize and join labor unions, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to strike. It also set up the National Labor Relations Board to administer the act and to certify that a union represented a particular group of employees.

The Wagner Act also forbade employers from engaging in five types of labor practices: interfering with or restraining employees exercising their right to organize and bargain collectively, attempting to dominate or influence a labor union, refusing to bargain collectively and in “good faith” with unions representing their employees and encouraging or discouraging union membership through any special conditions of employment or through discrimination against union or non-union members in hiring.

The Taft-Hartley Act

In 1947, legislators were looking to amend some of the Wagner Act’s provisions, which took the form of the Labor-Management Relations Act, otherwise known as the Taft-Hartley Act. The Act retained much of Section 7 of the Wagner Act, but also included new employee rights language and defined six additional unfair labor practices. Although it still preserved the rights of labor to organize and to bargain collectively, it added guarantees giving employees the right not to join unions (outlawing the closed shop), permitted union shops only where state law allowed and where a majority of workers voted for them, required unions to give 60 day advanced notice of a strike, authorized 80-day federal injunctions when a  strike threatened to imperil national health or safety, specified unfair union practices and restricted union political contributions.

Taft-Hartley & Retirement

Taft-Hartley plans are defined-benefit pension plans collectively bargained between a union and multiple employers. They are commonly known as multiemployer pension plans, or simply multis. There are millions of participants in the United States that typically cover workers in the construction, service, entertainment, manufacturing, mining, trucking and transportation industries.

This is a huge benefit for workers, allowing them to pool resources and spread risk. Taft-Hartley plans also benefit those who switch jobs semi-regularly, which is more likely in certain industries, notably construction, allowing these workers to transfer their pension plan from one employer to another and maximizing retirement payouts and benefits.

As dictated by the 1947 Act, these plans are administered by a board of trustees with balanced representation on both the labor and management side. Trustees not only operate and administer the plan, but they are also the named fiduciary. In other words, they are tasked with managing the plan and investing its funds under the guidelines of the Employee Retirement Income Security Act.

TDA is a committed fiduciary, working directly for trustees, plan participants, and their families.

If you would like to hear more about our services or how we can help, contact us today.