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Thesis (M.A.)—University of Nebraska—Lincoln, 1947. Department of Economics.


Copyright 1947, the author. Used by permission.


The closed shop has been one of the most burning labor issues of the last several years. It has thus far defied a generally satisfactory solution. The National War Labor Board faced the issue many times during the war and devised maintenance of membership as a temporary solution, which neither labor nor management considered very satisfactory. Fourteen states have recently tried to solve the problem by way of statutes or constitutional amendments prohibiting the closed shop. Unions claim that this action by the states is unconstitutional and are pressing this claim in the courts. The recently enacted Labor Management Relations Act of 1947 attempts to deal with the problem by prohibiting all forms of union-security agreements except the type known as the union shop and by prohibiting certain abuses. Labor claims that the Act has gone too far. In general, employers have described the closed shop as un-American and a violation of the individual worker’s rights. Labor has answered that the closed shop is collective bargaining in its best form. Rarely are the basic issues clarified and analyzed.

It is the general purpose of this study to examine the issue in the light of experience and of an analysis of the basic issues involved. To this end we shall first examine the terms used in connection with this issue and clarify the meanings for our purposes. Next, the history of the issue in the United States will be briefly surveyed. The third step will be to evaluate the arguments for and against the closed shop and to determine which way the balance lies. And finally, the proposed solutions to the problems will be evaluated in order to find the one which is based on the results of our analysis.

Advisor: Curtis M. Elliott