Menu
Image 1 of
Zoom In
Zoom Out
Fullscreen

President Harry S. Truman’s Speech regarding the Taft-Hartley Bill veto, June 20, 1947

President Harry S. Truman sympathized with workers and supported unions. He vetoed the Taft-Hartley bill, explaining that it abused the right of workers to unite and bargain with employers for fair wages and working conditions. In addressing the American public to explain his veto, he described the Taft-Hartley bill as a “shocking piece of legislation.

Harry S. Truman Library and Museum

President Harry S. Truman’s Speech regarding the Taft-Hartley Bill veto, June 20, 1947

Defining Presidential Power

As the nation recovered from World War II, labor strikes abounded. Believing labor unrest could destabilize the economy, Congress passed the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947, which empowered the president to prevent strikes that affected national security. President Harry S. Truman eschewed the act when a steelworkers’ union threatened to strike during the Korean War. Claiming executive emergency powers, Truman seized the steel mills, but the Supreme Court ruled that he exceeded presidential powers conferred by Congress and the Constitution.

During the Korean War, the judicial and legislative branches checked executive power when the Supreme Court relied on the Taft-Hartley Labor Relations Act to restrain President Harry S. Truman’s seizure of steel mills.