Labor Law Pennsylvania Abstract The history of labor law in Pennsylvania dates back to the times of the Great Depression and the New Deal. This paper discusses the history of labor law in Pennsylvania through the prism of federal developments in labor law. Why Pennsylvania developed a distinct set of labor laws and regulations is discussed. The paper sheds light on the differences among federal and state labor laws in Pennsylvania. Implications for the study of labor law history are provided. Keywords: labor law, Pennsylvania. Labor Law in Pennsylvania How to manage tensions between unions and employers has always been a serious issue in the United States.
Much had been written and said about the role of federal developments in the American labor law and its implications for employers. Despite numerous controversies, states always sought to differentiate themselves from federal labor law requirements. That was probably because federal laws were too general to reflect the specificity of labor conditions at the state level. The history of labor law in Pennsylvania developed along with the major developments in federal labor law. The major federal laws and regulations caused profound effects on the state of employment in Pennsylvania.
Today, however, Pennsylvania runs a set of laws and labor regulations that are distinct from those passed by the federal authorities. Yet, like many years ago, federal labor law remains the main guiding principle in the evolution of labor standards in Pennsylvania. The struggle between employees, employers and later trade unions was always the distinctive feature of labor law history in the U. S. Tensions in relations between employees and employers and between employers and unions were difficult to regulate.
This is why after the end of WWII, enacting new labor laws became the United States’ top political priority. Simultaneously, states monitoring the development of new labor legislation developed their own responses to labor complexities in private and public organizations. The history of labor law in Pennsylvania mirrors that of the United States, in general. Most laws enacted in Pennsylvania reflect the main federal labor law requirements and are designed to meet the specific conditions and circumstances of workplace performance in the state. Today, Pennsylvania runs two distinct set of labor regulations – those passed at the federal level and those enacted by the state authorities.
However, that was not always the case: at the very beginning of labor law in America, Pennsylvania was entirely subjected to federal legal requirements and successfully complied with the principal federal labor law regulations. It would be fair to say that the history of labor law in Pennsylvania dates back to the beginning of the 1930s, when tensions between employers, employees, and unions were becoming excessively burdensome. The Norris-LaGuardia Act was passed in 1932, to limit federal courts’ power in labor issues (Balliet, 1987).
At that time, employers often went to federal courts, not to let unions organize employees who were dissatisfied with the then labor reality (Balliet, 1987). Federal courts, in turn, imposed permanent or temporary injunctions, not to let unions stifle employers in their discriminative acts against employees (Sloane & Whitney, 1985). The Norris-LaGuardia Act was the first and most successful attempt to balance employees, employers, and unions in their powers, since the Act limited the use of legal injunctions imposed by federal courts (Jackson & Shields, 1992).
Making new employees sign a pledge not to join union was also made illegal (Balliet, 1987). With the power of federal courts severely limited, Pennsylvania began its way to independent labor law thinking. The same decade, the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 and the Labor Management Relations Act were passed (Sloane & Whitney, 1985). Both acts enhanced the power and quality of labor regulations at the federal level, giving state employees better protection from unfair practices and overt discrimination (Sloane & Whitney, 1985). Both acts set the stage for the development of other state regulations and, simultaneously, obligated Pennsylvanian employers to engage in collective bargaining with their employees (Balliet, 1987).
Needless to say, and notwithstanding their relevance, federal labor laws could not meet the legal and labor needs of Pennsylvanian workers in their entirety. Federal labor regulations could become an umbrella instrument of protecting employees from discrimination and unfairness in the workplace but left many other, state issues beyond the boundaries of legislation. Also, federal laws would never address the specificity and uniqueness of state workplace and employment conditions.
With this in mind, Pennsylvania soon developed its own code of labor laws that comply with the federal laws but are somewhat distinct from what other states do. These state regulations add efficiency to federal labor laws and guarantee fair protection of employees from the risks of discrimination and abuse. The beginning of the 21st century witnessed the rapid advancement in the development of state labor laws in Pennsylvania. For example, Pennsylvania adopted new overtime rules in compliance with the nationwide Fair Labor Standards Act and Pennsylvania Minimum Wage Act (Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 2011).
The latter, amended in 2006, establishes the levels of minimum wage and overtime payment rates for employees and employers in Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 2009). The Act sets forth compliance related duties and penalties for non-compliance (Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 2011). The discussed overtime payment requirements are due and will remain unchanged irrespective of possible changes in the federal law (Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry, 2011). In a similar vein, Pennsylvania speeds up the development of other state initiatives, which support Pennsylvanian employers in their striving to comply with the federal norms of labor.
Certainly, history does not stop here. The labor landscape is rapidly changing. Old professions give place to new ones. The need for new labor legislation is becoming urgent. However, it is also clear that, throughout its history, Pennsylvanian labor law was designed to respond to the emerging needs of employees and employers. Federal and state law regulations supported the development of healthy relations between employers, employees, and unions.
That state labor laws in Pennsylvania were regularly updated also means that a degree of flexibility needed to protect employees and employers from unnecessary losses was achieved. Flexibility must remain the dominant criterion of legal success in Pennsylvania. The historical values of fairness and non-discrimination must be pursued. The success of future changes in Pennsylvanian labor law will depend upon the ability of state authorities to adjust to labor market changes without betraying the principal values of legality and ethics in the workplace. History will become a good lesson of saliency in the provision of the basic labor law norms in Pennsylvania.
References Balliet, L. (1987). A survey of labor relations. Washington, D.C. : BNA Books. Jackson, G.E. & Shields, L.S. (1992). How to defend and win labor and employment law cases. Prentice Hall. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. (2011). Overtime rules in Pennsylvania. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. Retrieved from http: //www. portal. state. pa. us/portal/server. pt? open=514&objID=553571&mode=2 Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. (2009). Administration of Pennsylvania’s New Minimum Wage Law. Pennsylvania Department of Labor & Industry. Retrieved from http: //www. portal. state. pa. us/portal/server. pt? open=514&objID=553567&mode=2 Sloane, A.A. & Whitney, F. (1985).
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