Smith-Connally Act (War Labor Disputes Act) (1943)


Legislation that defined the relationship between labor unions and the federal government during World War II and would later influence anti-union forces.

Congress passed the Smith-Conally Act over President Franklin Roosevelt’s veto on June 25, 1943, after John L. Lewis, union president, and his United Mine Workers defied the federal government by going on strike in May 1943. Also called the War Labor Disputes Act, the bill required unions to give formal notice of intention to strike, to observe a 30-day cooling-off period, and to secure majority support for the strike from the rank-and-file membership. It also gave the president the power to seize war plants and to impose penalties for illegal work stoppages. President Franklin D. Roosevelt used this act to federalize the railroads between December 27, 1943, and January 18, 1944, when the unions representing the Locomotive Firemen, Railway Conductors, and Switchmen refused to withdraw a strike order. The act expired in June 1947.

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