Glenn Beck Needs To Look Up FDR's Record Of Supporting Collective Bargaining


Glenn Beck, dismissing the right of workers to engage in collective bargaining, claimed that President Franklin Roosevelt said "collective bargaining would destroy us." In fact, Roosevelt passed groundbreaking legislation protecting collective bargaining rights and said that collective bargaining was part of a "splendid new agreement" between the federal government and labor.

Beck: Franklin Roosevelt Believed "Collective Bargaining Would Destroy Us"

From the March 1 edition of Glenn Beck:

This may come as a shock, but I can't find collective bargaining in the Bill of Rights or the Constitution. I can't find it. In fact, FDR said collective bargaining would destroy us. Yes, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Look it up. [Fox News, Glenn Beck, 03/01/11]

But Roosevelt Signed Groundbreaking Legislation Protecting Collective Bargaining Rights

The National Industrial Recovery Act Of 1933 Guaranteed Collective Bargaining Rights For Unions. From the act:

SEC. 7. (a) Every code of fair competition, agreement, and license approved, prescribed, or issued under this title shall contain the following conditions: (1) That employees shall have the right to organize and bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and shall be free from the interference restraint, or coercion of employers of labor, or their agents, in the designation of such representatives or in self-organization or in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection;(2) that no employee and no one seeking employment shall be required as a condition of employment to join any company union or to refrain from joining, organizing, or assisting a labor organization of his own choosing; and (3) that employers shall comply with the maximum hours of labor, minimum rates of pay, and. other conditions of employment, approved or. prescribed by the President. [Transcript of National Industrial Recovery Act (1933), accessed 03/01/11, emphasis added]

The Tennessee Valley Authority Act Recognized Collective Bargaining Rights. In 1933, Roosevelt signed the Tennessee Valley Authority Act, which recognized the rights of employees to negotiate wages through "collective agreement." From the act:

In the event any dispute arises as to what are the prevailing rates of wages, the question shall be referred to the Secretary of Labor for determination, and his decision shall be final. In the determination of such prevailing rate or rates, due regard shall be given to those rates which have been secured through collective agreement by representatives of employers and employees. [Tennessee Valley Authority Act, accessed 03/01/11]

The National Labor Relations Act Of 1935 Prohibited Employers From Barring Workers From Bargaining Collectively. The act also established the National Labor Relations Board to investigate unfair labor practices. From the act:


Sec. 7. [§ 157.] Employees shall have the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid or protection, and shall also have the right to refrain from any or all such activities except to the extent that such right may be affected by an agreement requiring membership in a labor organization as a condition of employment as authorized in section 8(a)(3) [section 158(a)(3) of this title].


Sec. 8. [§ 158.] (a) [Unfair labor practices by employer] It shall be an unfair labor practice for an employer--

(1) to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of the rights guaranteed in section 7 [section 157 of this title];

(2) to dominate or interfere with the formation or administration of any labor organization or contribute financial or other support to it: Provided, That subject to rules and regulations made and published by the Board pursuant to section 6 [section 156 of this title], an employer shall not be prohibited from permitting employees to confer with him during working hours without loss of time or pay; [National Labor Relations Board, National Labor Relations Act, accessed 03/01/11]

Roosevelt Also Campaigned In 1936 Promising To Continue Support For Collective Bargaining

Roosevelt: "Of Course We Will Continue Every Effort ... To Support Collective Bargaining." From a speech Roosevelt delivered on October 31, 1936:

Of course we will continue to seek to improve working conditions for the workers of America--to reduce hours over-long, to increase wages that spell starvation, to end the labor of children, to wipe out sweatshops. Of course we will continue every effort to end monopoly in business, to support collective bargaining, to stop unfair competition, to abolish dishonorable trade practices. For all these we have only just begun to fight. [Roosevelt's Speech at Madison Square Garden, 10/31/36, via the University of Virgina's Miller Center of Public Affairs]

In Fact, Roosevelt Touted Collective Bargaining As A "Splendid New Agreement" Between Labor And The Federal Government

Roosevelt Celebrated The Role Collective Bargaining Played In "The Biggest Consolidated Construction Job Ever Undertaken Directly By The National Government." From Roosevelt's speech at the Chickamauga Dam Celebration in 1940:

This national holiday - Labor Day - has been appropriately selected, because in the miracle that man has wrought, labor has played a vital role. In all of those seven years, in heat and in cold, men have drilled and blasted through solid rock, they have poured ton after ton of concrete and they have moved mountains of earth. They have worked with the strength of their hands, and they have operated complicated machinery with every form of modern skill. Never once in these years, in this the biggest consolidated construction job ever undertaken directly by the national Government, has there been a substantial interruption to the continuance of your labors. This Dam, all the dams built in this short space of years, stand as a monument to the productive partnership between management and labor, between citizens of all kinds working together in the public weal. Collective bargaining and efficiency have proceeded hand in hand. It is noteworthy that the splendid new agreement between organized labor and the Tennessee Valley Authority begins with the words "The public interest in an undertaking such as the TVA always being paramount ..."

It is appropriate, therefore, that we recognize this signal achievement on the day when the whole nation pays tribute to labor's contribution to the democracy that we are not preparing to defend. To all of you, therefore - all of you who have contributed to make these structures possible throughout this beautiful Valley of the Tennessee - I extend the Nation's thanks. [Address at Chickamauga Dam, 09/02/40, via the University of Michigan's Public Papers of the Presidents of the United States]

Posted In
Economy, Labor Unions
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Glenn Beck
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