Yellow Dog Agreements

The Wagner Act of 1935 gave workers the right to join trade unions and to bargain collectively with their employers. Congress banned the Yellow Dog Treaty and other unfair labor practices by employers, and concluded that these practices violated public order. Existing yellow dog contracts have been declared unenforceable by the courts. Confirmation of the constitutionality of the Wagner Act by the Supreme Court in NLRB v. JONES & LAUGHLIN STEEL CORP., 301 U.S. 1, 57 p. Ct. 615, 81 L. Ed. 893 (1937), marked the end of the treatise on the yellow dog. Until 1932, the Norris-LaGuardia Act prohibited yellow dog contracts from existing in the private sector. However, until the 1960s, they were still allowed in the public sector, even in federal jobs. At this point, the history of the yellow dog contract ended, as all yellow dog contracts from that moment on were considered illegal and unenforceable.

Comments from publications such as the United Mine Workers` Journal were welcomed by many unionized workers at the time when they called for the actions of employees who were willing to sign the rights granted to all by the U.S. Constitution, calling them “yellow dogs” and comparing them to volunteer slaves for their employers. Nowadays, yellow dog contracts most often occur in the form of non-compete obligations. These are usually introduced by employers when they have a legitimate interest in preventing employees from working for a directly competitive company and potentially harming the future success of their business. A yellow dog contract is an illegal agreement that an employer enters into with an employee in which the employee agrees not to join the company`s union. For example, “yellow dog contract” is a metaphor used to refer to the employee who signs the document, as in “What person would be such a `yellow dog` who reduces himself to signing his constitutional rights just to get a job”. In more modern terms, a yellow dog clause refers to a non-compete obligation that an employer can include in an employment contract. By signing such a contract, the employee agrees not to work for a direct competitor in the future โ€“ which would ultimately harm their current employer. The term yellow dog clause may also have a different meaning: non-competition clauses in or attached to a non-disclosure agreement to prevent an employee from working for other employers in the same industry.

[4] After preventing both the national market power and the state police authority from banning yellow dog contracts, the Court upheld the legality of such contracts. In Hitchman coal and coke co. v. Mitchell (1917) The court overturned a federal district court`s decision that a yellow dog contract was not an enforceable contract. Justice Mahlon Pitney stated with a majority of six members: “The employer is as free to make non-membership a condition of employment as the employee is free to join the union.” The court added that the right to enter into such a contract was “part of the constitutional rights to personal liberty and private property, which cannot even be taken away by law,” which the court had already annulled. It is not possible to assess the extent to which these decisions thwarted the trade union organization. 29 United States.C ยง 103 (a) to (b): Inapplicability of yellow dog contracts An example of a yellow dog contract can be found in a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1915, 12 years after the state of Kansas passed a law to encourage workers to unionize. The law prohibited employers from attaching conditions to their workplace requiring an employee to refuse to join a union or cease to participate in a union before working for his or her company. However, 12 years later, Coppage โ€“ an employer โ€“ added a clause to its employment contracts that required workers to give up their right to join a union if they took a job. In the spring of 1921, the term “yellow dog” was first published in publications aimed at those who belonged to trade unions. The editor-in-chief of the United Mine Workers` Journal spoke on behalf of many when he commented: The history of the yellow dog contract dates back to the 1870s.

It started with a written agreement called a “notorious” or “iron” document that included an anti-union promise. By signing the agreement, a worker would agree not to join his union. Beginning in 1887 with New York, sixteen states declared it a criminal act for an employer to force its employees not to join a union. A yellow dog contract is sometimes called an iron oath or a yellow dog clause. These contracts stipulate certain contracts and working conditions and, in particular, that a worker is in no way involved in a trade union in the course of his employment. It is an employment contract that requires workers not to join a union as a condition of employment. The U.S. Supreme Court`s hostility to the government`s efforts to ban the Yellow Dog Treaty was rooted in the concept of “freedom of contract.” In the late nineteenth century, the Court used the provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the United States Constitution to repeal federal and state corporate laws. These amendments provide that no government “may deprive a person of life, liberty or property without due process.” The Court interpreted this prohibition as including the negotiation of working conditions between an employer and an employee. A yellow dog contract was beneficial for the employer because it gave the employer recourse if its employees committed a mutiny against the company. In 1932, a new philosophy was put into play that the government should remain outside the right of workers to organize. This led to the passage of the Norris-LaGuardia Act and the end of the legal maintenance of yellow dog contracts.


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