The 1947 Labor Management Relations Act—better known as the Taft-Hartley Act after its two congressional sponsors—was a watershed moment in the development of the US political economy. The act revised the 1935 National Labor Relations (or Wagner) Act, which had established a legal regime far more favorable to labor unions than any before or since.1 Though spearheaded by Democrats and signed by President Franklin Roosevelt, the Wagner Act received substantial support from Republicans as well. The 1935 act helped drive union density to unprecedented heights, even as the labor movement itself splintered into the incumbent AFL and the insurgent CIO. By the Second World War, labor unions were far more plentiful, and organized labor far more powerful, than had ever been the case, a state of affairs reinforced by “maintenance of membership” and other wartime policies of the union-friendly Roosevelt administration. President Roosevelt and his successor, Harry Truman, also...

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