Barry Goldwater on a 1959 Law Labor

Barry Goldwater’s most important vote in the 50s was against the Kennedy-Ervin Labor Bill in 1959.  The bill’s supporters thought it was a cure all  for evils the McClellan Committee uncovered during its investigation of corruption among the leaders of organized labor.  The hearings lasted about 18 months. Senate approved the bill by 95 to 1. Senator Goldwater was the lone dissenter.  With house approval, the bill went to President Eisenhower and he signed it.  Within few days, the President Eisenhower asked Goldwater to come to the Oval Office.

Eisenhower asked BG why he voted against the bill.  The President implied that 95 other Senators  could not be misguided.  Barry Goldwater explained to President Eisenhower that the Landrum Griffin Act did not prevent blackmail picketing, secondary boycotts, and union bosses from looting union treasuries.  The bill also ignored the fundamental right of union members to have strong voice in the affairs of their union’s operation.  Senator Goldwater convinced the President though logic, sincerity, and the strength of his convictions.

Within a week, President Eisenhower ordered a new team to study the Kennedy-Ervin Act.  Three months later, the President on national television explained the deficiencies of Kennedy-Ervin and asked Congress to enact a more effective labor law.  On September 3, 1959 by a 95 to 2 vote,  Congress passed the Landrum Griffin Act, virtually nullifying Kennedy-Ervin.

This was an example of Senator Barry Goldwater standing alone, which he was never afraid to do.


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