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Franccs Perkins, Secretary
Isador Lukin, Commissioner (on leave)
A . F. Hinrichs, Acting Commissioner


Maintenance^of^Membership Awards
of National War Labor Board

Bulletin 7N[o. 753
I Reprinted from the M o nth ly L a b o r Rbvibw, September 1943}


For sale by the Superintendent of Documents, U . S. Government Printing Office
Washington, D. C< - Price 5 cents


n it e d

St a t e s D e p a r t m e n t of L a b o r ,
B u r e a u o f L a b o r S t a t is t ic s ,


Washington D. C




., September 28,



I have the honor to transmit herewith a report on the effect of National War
Labor Board maintenance-of-membership awards on employer-employee rela­
tions, which was based oh a study in 31 plants throughout the country.
This study was conducted by Fred Joiner and other members of the Industrial
Relations Division, under the direction of Florence Peterson, chief. The report
first appeared in the Monthly Labor Review, September 1943.
A. F. H


in r ic h s ,


Acting Commissioner


P e r k in s ,


Secretary of Labor


Scope of survey_______________________________________________________
Security to the union__________________________________________________
Union strength before and after award______________________________
Resignation during the “ escape period” _____________________________
The “ Marshall Field” formula_____________________________________
Delinquency, and action taken to enforce maintenance of membership.
Organizing nevr members__________________________________________
Effects on union-management relations__________________________________
Work stoppages__ ________________________________________________
Labor-management committees____________________________________
Grievance adjustment_____________________________________________
Attitudes and opinions________________________________________________
Attitude of employers_____________________________________________
Attitude of unions________________________________________________
Attitude of employees_____________________________________________


Bulletin 7S[o. 753 of the
United States Bureau of Labor Statistics
{R eprinted from the M


L a b o r R e v i e w , September, 1943.]

Maintenance-of-Membership Awards of National
War Labor Board
THAT a considerable degree of stability in union strength has resulted
from the maintenance-of-membership awards of the National War
Labor Board was revealed by a survey of 31 plants made by the Bureau
of Labor Statistics. Although most unions with maintenance-ofmembership clauses in their agreements had increased their member­
ship, the relative union strength showed no marked increase, because
total employment had also increased since the adoption of the clause.
Resignations of union members during the so-called “ escape period”
were negligible in most cases. Discharges of union members for failure
to remain in good standing were not numerous, only 72 employees in
8 plants having been discharged for failure to pay their union dues.
The maintenance-of-membership clause had also assisted the en­
forcement of the unions’ “ no-strike” pledge in several instances.
Improvements in employer-union relations, as reflected in the effec­
tiveness of the grievance program, were noted in a majority of cases
Scope of Survey
The survey was undertaken at the request of the National War
Labor Board and covered 31 cases 1 where maintenance of union
membership had been introduced through action of the Board. Field
representatives visited the plants after the clause had been in operation
for several months, to determine its effect on union strength and on
industrial relations.
The study covered plants in nearly all of the industries producing
war materials, including the lumber, aircraft, metal-mining, textile,
and automobile-equipment industries, and situated in every section
of the country. At each plant visited, interviews were held with com­
pany and union officials as well as a number of union and nonunion
employees. Lack of time limited somewhat the number of rank-andfile employees interviewed at each plant, but in total the number
was probably sufficient to gain a fairly accurate impression of indi­
vidual employee reaction. In only 5 of the 31 cases had there been
an “ escape period” provided in the award. This relatively small
number was due to the fact that the cases chosen for study necessarily
1 In several of the cases more than one plant was affected b y action of the Board as, for example, in the
decision covering an association of loggers in Washington and Oregon, and another covering numerous hotels
in San Francisco.



Maintenance of Membership Awards

included the earliest awards made by the Board, before provision for
the 15-day escape period had been generally adopted.
Security to the Union
The basic question which must be asked in any study of mainte­
nance-of-membership clauses is whether or not the clause has actually
provided security to the union. In other words, has the union main­
tained its strength not only in absolute figures but also relatively to
the changing number of eligible employees in the plant? It is impor­
tant also to know whether dues delinquency has decreased and whether
maintenance-of-membership has been enforced.

In a majority of the cases studied, employment had increased at a
fairly steady rate as a result of the expanding needs of the war program.
Moreover, the turnover rate and resultant losses in union members in
a majority of the plants visited were fairly high. A maintenance-ofmembership award, of course, does not compel new employees to join
the union. It is important, therefore, to determine whether the
strength of the union relative to the total eligible employees was
maintained in the months following a maintenance-of-membership
The present study indicated a considerable degree of stability in
union strength under the maintenance-of-membership provisions, in
regard both to total membership and to the relative strength of the
union in the plant. In only 7 of the 31 cases covered had the union
suffered a decrease in total membership during the period since
maintenance of membership had been in effect. In the remaining 24
cases, an increase—in some cases a substantial increase—in the total
number of union members was shown.
In about one-third of the plants covered (10 out of 31) the union
suffered a decrease in relative strength. In 4 cases this decrease was
so sharp that it caused the union to lose its majority status. In a few
other cases the decrease in relative strength ranged from 10 to 20
Although 19 of the cases studied revealed increases in relative
union strength, these increases were in many cases quite moderate,
revealing in effect little more than that the union had held its own
during the months following the inauguration of maintenance of

In 2 of the 5 cases in which “ escape periods” were included in the
maintenance-of-membership awards, no resignations were reported
during the period allowed. In 1 case, between 20 and 30 employees,
representing less than half of 1 percent of the union membership,
formally resigned during the escape period. In another case, 40
resignations were reported (about 10 percent of the union members)
but 30 later rejoined and the total union membership increased by
two-thirds immediately after the signing of the agreement. One case,
however, revealed serious membership losses to the union during the
escape period. In this plant, 92 employees, or one-third of the mem­
bership in the union, resigned formally during the escape period.

Maintenance of Membership Awards


This severe loss nearly wiped out the union in the plant, since the
remaining members almost without exception stopped paying dues
and ceased all activity in the union.2


Somewhat similar to the problem of the escape period is the
“ Marshall Field” formula 3 which in effect requires the union to
recanvass its membership after the maintenance-of-membership
clause has been awarded, allowing each member the choice of signing
or refusing to sign a card stating that he agrees to be bound by the
maintenance-of-membership provision and have his dues checked off
by the company. Two of the plants covered had such a clause in
effect. In both of these the union was in a stronger position after the
maintenance-of-membership clause took effect than it was just prior
to that time. The number of check-off cards signed exceeded con­
siderably the total union membership prior to the award. This was
due in large measure to the fact that wage increases and other gains
had been obtained by the union at the same time as the maintenanceof-membership award, thus causing many employees to join the union.
Despite these relative increases, the union in one of the two plants
reported that approximately 50 employees who were previously union
members refused to sign the check-off card and were thereby dropped
from membership; this same union later suffered a decrease in its
relative strength, owing to the turnover in personnel.
Since, under the “ Marshall Field,, formula, employees who fail
to sign the card authorizing the check-off are not bound by the main­
tenance-of-membership provision, one of the unions has refused to
accept into membership employees who are willing to pay dues directly
to the organization but are unwilling to sign the authorization card.
On the other hand, the union in the other case has allowed a few
members to pay dues directly to it.






Although the maintenance-of-membership provision has aided the
unions in their efforts to keep members paid up in their dues, it has
by no means solved the problem of dues delinquency, particularly in
those cases where this was serious prior to the Board’s award.
In 13 plants delinquency remained a serious problem despite the
maintenance-of-membership provision. Delinquency rates among
union members in 11 cases ranged from 10 to 20 percent, and in 2
cases (where the employer had placed severe obstacles in the way of
union action) the rates were 45 and 90 percent, respectively.
Several unions with severe dues problems had taken little or no
action under the maintenance-of-membership clause to force delin­
quent members into good standing. In 24 of the 31 cases, however,
the unions had initiated action with the company, against delinquent
members. In many of these 24 cases a small sample of delinquent
members had been selected by the union as “ test” cases. In only 5
of the 31 cases covered had requests for action affected considerable
2 There was some evidence that the employer had encouraged and assisted employees to resign during the
escape period.
3 See M onthly Labor Review, June 1942 (p. 1347).


Maintenance of Membership Awards

Out of a total employment of approximately 125,000 workers in
the cases covered, including 90,000 union members, only 72 employees
had suffered final termination of their employment as a result of
union action taken to enforce maintenance of membership.4 In the
great majority of instances where lists of delinquents were sub­
mitted to the company, the employees involved paid up their dues
following a warning by company officials that otherwise discharge
would follow.

Union officials in almost every case indicated that the maintenanceof-membership clause placed no obstacles in the way of organizing
new members, among either the old employees or those newly hired.
They reported that the additional factor of being required to main­
tain their membership after once joining the union did not deter
individuals from joining, if they had made up their minds to do so.
In one case where the “ Marshall Field” formula was in effect, the
union stated that a few employees who might otherwise have joined
had refused to sign the check-off cards, since this would expose their
union membership to the company officials.
Union officials in a few plants pointed out that with the main­
tenance-of-membership provision it had become easier to organize
new employees, since prospective members were impressed with the
security which the union had obtained and therefore felt that they
were joining a stable organization whose existence could not be easily
threatened by the employer.
Effects on Union-Management Relations
The Bureau attempted to obtain information as to whether
maintenance of membership had resulted in greater stability in employer-union relations. Some light is thrown on this point in the
following discussion of work stoppages, grievance adjustment, and
labor-management committees, but it should be remembered that
many factors other than the maintenance-of-membership clause
affect such issues and programs.

In 25 of the 31 cases, no stoppages, slowdowns, or other overt actions
on the part of the workers, adversely affecting production, were re­
ported since the maintenance-of-membership clause has been in
effect. In one case, involving several operations, there was a short
stoppage in one operation when the employer refused to put the
Board’s wage directive into effect. In another case, there were 2
work stoppages, neither of which exceeded 2 days. These stoppages
resulted, respectively, from the discharge of a union committeeman
for having solicited dues on company time, and from a wage dispute.
In 4 cases there had been frequent stoppages because of delays in
settling grievances, disputes over work loads, and questions of senior­
ity; all but one of these involved only a limited number of employees
in certain departments. In all these instances the union officers
maintained that they were not involved in the strike action. In
* 55 of these discharges occurred in a single plant where (as the employer pointed out) they constituted
only a small fraction of the 18,000 total separations which the com pany experienced last year.

Maintenance of Membership Awards


fact, with one exception, the work stoppages which did occur were
terminated within a few hours through action of union leadership;
in the exception, in a dispute over work loads, the stoppage lasted 11
days and was settled by a conciliator of the U. S. Department of
It was pointed out to the Bureau’s investigators by several union
officials that the additional power given to them by the maintenanceof-membership provision has enabled them to take strong measures
to prevent stoppages from occurring. In one instance cited, the union
prevented a group of workers from striking when a Negro employee
was brought into the department; many workers, incensed at the
union’s attitude, tore up their union cards, but later rejoined when
they realized that persistence in their action would mean loss of


The existence of labor-management committees to improve produc­
tion and efficiency is a tangible evidence of good relations between
the employers and the unions. In 22 cases such committees had been
established, and in 9 this development in employer-union relations
had not yet been achieved.5 In the majority of the plants with
labor-management committees, their operation to date could not be
considered successful. In several cases the parties frankly admitted
that, following the formation of the committee and perhaps some
initial activity, interest in the plan had lapsed and the committee
had ceased functioning. It was interesting to note that many rankand-file employees interviewed had no knowledge of the committee’s
activities, even though it was in existence in their plant.

The situation with respect to grievance adjustment is an important
indication of the kind of employer-union relations which exists in any
plant. It was difficult to trace changes in the grievance situation to
the maintenance-of-membership clause, as such. It may be signifi­
cant, however, that in 18 of the 31 plants the grievance machinery
appeared to be working better than before the maintenance-of-membership clause went into effect. In 12 cases, no change was noted
in the effectiveness of the grievance program, while in one case (a
textile mill where severe membership losses had occurred) the grievance
machinery had practically ceased to function.
In almost half of the cases, the maintenance-of-membership clause
was incorporated in the first agreement signed between the parties.
In some others, the bargaining machinery had been at a standstill,
pending determination of the case by the National War Labor Board.
The tendency in these cases was for a flood of pent-up grievances to
be released following the signing of the agreement, which caused the
number of grievance cases to rise quite rapidly. After the first few
months, however, the number of grievances gradually declined and
not uncommonly both parties felt that stability in grievance adjust­
ment was being reached.
In about one-fourth of the cases studied, the relations between the
union and the employer, as reflected in the grievance-adjustment

6Included in these 9 cases was an association of hotel employers.


Maintenance of Membership Aimrds

program, must still be considered poor. These included 4 plants where
no change could be observed and 5 where some improvement had
recently taken place.
Bureau representatives attempted to discover in each situation
whether, in the opinion of the employer, the union was acting in a
more responsible manner with regard to the number and the nature
of the grievances handled; and whether, in the opinion of the union,
the employer was treating the union representatives with more respect
and was more willing to accept the union’s recommendation on
particular grievances. In most cases it was impossible to secure
these admissions from either side, even in those cases where it was
apparent that the grievance machinery under the new agreement was
functioning better than previously. Representatives of both parties
interviewed seemed more desirous of pointing out particular instances
of irresponsibility or unyielding attitude rather than of considering
the situation as a whole. Even where it was admitted that better
relations prevailed, more credit was ascribed to a change in union
leadership, in company officials, or in bargaining procedure, than to
maintenance of membership. Some union officials and individual
workers, however, felt that better relations had resulted because of
the increased strength and security gained by the union through
maintenance of membership.
Attitudes and Opinions
An important purpose of the survey was to determine the attitudes
and opinions of the various parties in the light of experience gained
in the actual operation of maintenance-of-membership clauses. The
general opinions of employers, union representatives, and individual
employees interviewed are summarized below:

In the great majority of the plants visited, the employers seemed
to be reconciled to the maintenance-of-membership situation. In
only three plants were the employers still so strongly opposed to the
principle that they were obviously trying to prevent the union from
making its security effective. Several employers stated that they
were opposed in principle to maintenance of membership, but accepted
it as a “ necessary evil” during the war period.
In two of the three cases of employer opposition the maintenanceof-membership clause had been included, against the employers’
wishes, in the first agreement which the companies had ever had
with the union. There had been a background of intense anti-union
activity, previously, in these cases, and it continued to such an extent
as to keep the union weak and ineffectual. Thus, the maintenanceof-membership provision not only failed to strengthen the union, but
in both cases the union was weaker at the time of the Bureau’s survey
than when the clause had been granted; In one of the above cases
and an additional plant, the union had made some attempt to enforce
the membership-maintenance provision, but the determined opposition
of the employer had made enforcement practically impossible. In
,one case the company refused to discharge certain employees whose
names the union submitted. In the other, the company took the

Maintenance of Membership Awards


attitude that it would never discharge a man for refusing to pay
union dues, unless ordered to do so by the impartial umpire, irrespec­
tive of the merits of the case. Since arbitration costs would cause a
heavy drain on the union’s treasury, the union hesitated to enforce
the membership provision.
The employers who stated that they were accepting maintenance of
membership merely as a wartime necessity because it had been ordered
by the Federal Government, implied that they would stoutly resist the
principle when allowed to do so after the war. In most cases these
employers were faithfully observing the letter of the agreement and
were enforcing membership where the union requested them to do so.
One of these employers stated that he feared the effect of maintenance
of membership on the morale of the employees. He pointed out that
several employees whose names had been submitted to the company
for action under the provision were extremely resentful and that
quarrels had developed in the plant between these employees and
active union members.
The employers who expressed no objection to maintenance of
membership stated as their reason their desire to cooperate in the
establishment of harmonious relations with the union. In general,
this attitude seemed to flow from a genuine acceptance of collective
bargaining. Although only one employer was willing specifically to
attribute the establishment of harmonious relations to maintenance of
membership, most of the others felt that any employer opposition to
union security at this time might cause a complete breakdown in the
collective-bargaining relationship. In one case the employer com­
plained that, although he desired a strong stable union, the main­
tenance-of-membership clause had failed to provide this stability.
He pointed out that the leadership of the union had frequently been
changed and, in fact, the entire local had changed its affiliation from
the American Federation of Labor to the Congress of Industrial
Organizations during the period that maintenance of membership was
in effect. In one case the employer was satisfied that the clause had
eliminated not only friction over dues collection but also the faction­
alism among the union members, which had been a troublesome prob­
lem in the past. In another case the employer supported the theory
that when an individual joined an organization he should be required
to support it. It should be mentioned that the maintenance-ofmembership clause in these latter cases had been inserted in the union
agreement following mediation and not by a directive order of the
War Labor Board.

As might be expected, unions in general expressed considerable satis­
faction with the maintenance-of-membership clause and felt that it
had given them some degree of security. In only a few cases did the
unions appear to be entirely satisfied with maintenance of membership
as it operated in their particular plants. In the majority, the unions
were dissatisfied only with the degree of union security provided by
the maintenance-of-membership clause as compared with stronger
clauses, such as that providing for the union shop. In four cases,
however, the unions felt that they had received almost no security
/rom maintenance of membership and had not been able to apply the
clause in their particular plants.


Maintenance of Membership Aivards

In the cases in which the union was entirely satisfied with main­
tenance of membership, the union had achieved a very high degree of
organization in the plant prior to the application of maintenance of
membership. In two of these plants the employer-union relations
prior to the maintenance-of-membership agreement had reached a
stage where the employer fully accepted the union as the representa­
tive of the overwhelming majority of its employees and was bargaining
with the organization on this basis. In the other plants employerunion relations had not reached this stage at the time the security
clause was obtained; there the union noted an increasing acceptance of
the union, following the agreement incorporating the maintenance-ofmembership clause, and was pleased with the results which were as­
cribed almost entirely to the additional security which maintenance of
membership had provided.
As noted above, the majority of local unions expressed themselves as
favoring maintenance of membership, but realized the limitations of
the clause and were not entirely satisfied with the degree of security
which had been obtained. Most of these unions wanted the union
shop and pointed out that maintenance of membership failed to bring
&bout anything like the 100-percent organization which the union
shop would have secured automatically. One union official said,
“ Maintenance of membership is not even a forty-second cousin to the
closed shop. In fact, it is an open shop and encourages the company
to continue its anti-union activity.” Specific instances of company
discrimination either against union members or in favor of nonunionists
were submitted by several unions as evidence that the maintenance-ofmembership clause had not changed the employers’ attitude toward the
union nor ended their attempts to drive a wedge between the union
and those whom the union was attempting to organize.
These unions also pointed out that under the maintenance-ofmembership clause the union, particularly in plants where labor turn­
over was high, was still required to spend much time organizing, col­
lecting dues, and “ tending its fences” among the employees, to
the detriment of other activities which might be more valuable to
the war program. Several of these locals felt that the addition of the
check-off to the maintenance-of-membership clause would solve many
of their present problems. In one plant where the “ Marshall Field”
formula was in effect, the union approved the check-off but opposed
the signing of authorization cards which “ requires us to organize the
plant twice, once to get membership and again to get signed check-off
On the other hand, union officials pointed out many benefits of
maintenance-of-membership clauses to offset these adverse attitudes.
Almost all stated that maintenance of membership had relieved the
dues situation to some extent. In a few plants it had formerly been
the practice of some union members to stop paying dues from time to
time whenever they were dissatisfied with union activity on a particu­
lar grievance or while awaiting the outcome of negotiations. Also,
as mentioned previously, the union leaders are now able to take a
stronger position in enforcing union policy, such as the “ no strike”
agreement, when such policy is opposed by a few union members.
In the four plants in which the union was almost completely dis­
satisfied with the maintenance-of-membership clause, the circum­
stances were such that the union was unable to enforce the clause to

Maintenance of Membership Awards


any extent. In most of these cases the union represented barely 50
percent of the employees when the clause was granted and suffered
severe delinquency thereafter. Since most of these plants are manu­
facturing war material and have serious problems in securing man­
power, the unions felt that they could not place themselves in the
position of asking for the discharge of large numbers of qualified work­
men and the consequent disruption of production. In addition, in
enforcing membership maintenance the unions feared the effect on
weaker union members of being called before the company and warned
or disciplined for failure to pay dues. They stated that the employees
who are critical of the union or its leadership would have an added
argument by saying, “ See, the union wants to get me fired.” Also
since new employees are not required to join, these unions hesitate to
force older members to pay dues on pain of discharge. According to
the union, the older members observe that new employees obtain all
the benefits which the union has secured, without having to pay dues,
and feel quite bitterly the injustice of their own enforced membership,,

Bureau representatives interviewed 110 rank-and-file employees.
An attempt was made in every case to secure representatives of dif­
ferent backgrounds, including union members and nonunionists, male
and female employees, and nationality groups.
In general, the reaction of rank-and-file workers to the maintenanceof-membership clause depended upon their degree of sympathy for
the union. Many union members expressed strong enthusiasm for
maintenance of membership while some nonunion employees showed
antipathy to it. Between these extremes were many employees,
some of them dues-paying members of the local union, who were indif­
ferent and in some cases ignorant of the maintenance-of-membership
clause and its application.
Among the nonunion employees, only three were found who gave
maintenance of membership as their primary reason for not joining
the union, and in these three cases it was difficult to judge whether
the principal objection was not the union rather than the maintenanceof-membership provision, as such. Some anti-union workers claimed
that others had been “high-pressured” into joining the union or had
had the union-security clause misrepresented to them and would like
to resign if they could. Only four employees stated that they would
like to resign from the union and there were none who claimed that
the union-security clause had been misrepresented to them by union
officials. A number of employees thought that it was unfair for union
members to be bound by maintenance of membership while other
employees in the plant were not so bound.
Several employees interviewed were not particularly conscious of
the fact that the maintenance-of-membership clause was in effect at
the plant. When questioned they usually admitted that copies of
the agreement containing the clause had been posted on bulletin
boards or handed to them, but they had not read the clause carefully
and it had not been the subject of much discussion within the plant.
They did not feel that the clause was particularly important and had
no opinions one way or the other as to its desirability.


Maintenance of Membership Awards

Several rank-and-file employees, especially those in strongly organ­
ized plants, were enthusiastic about the maintenance-of-membership
clause. In general, these employees felt that the relations between the
company and the union had improved under the maintenance-of-membership clause and usually pointed to some concrete gains as indicating
the changed attitude of the employer.