Yellow Dog Contract

A Yellow Dog Contract is a contract between an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees not to join a union as a condition of employment. Employers often used such contracts until it was outlawed in the United States.

Additional Sources

Answers.com

An employer-employee contract, no longer legal, by which the employee agrees not to join a union while employed.

Duhaime Legal Dictionary

A name given in American labor law to contract of employment by which the employee promises not to join a union or agrees to forfeit employment if he/she joins a union during the period of employment.

Encyclopedia Britannica

An agreement between an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees, as a condition of employment, not to join a union during the course of his employment. Such contracts, used most widely in the United States in the 1920s, enabled employers to take legal action against union organizers for encouraging workers to break these contracts. A federal law prohibiting the use of yellow-dog contracts on the railroads (Erdman Act of 1898) was struck down by the Supreme Court as an unconstitutional infringement upon the freedom of contract (Adair v. The United States, 1908).

FindLaw

An illegal employment contract in which a worker disavows membership in and agrees not to join a labor union in order to get a job

Legal-Dictionary.org

An employment contract in which the employer forbids the employee to join a labor union. Yellow-dog contracts are not legally enforceable.

Merriam Webster

An employment contract in which a worker disavows membership in and agrees not to join a labor union in order to get a job.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

An employment agreement whereby a worker promises not to join a Labor Union or promises to resign from a union if he or she is already a member.

Until the 1930s, employers were able to use a variety of measures to prevent employees from joining labor unions. One of the most effective was the yellow dog contract, which frequently forced employees to either sign an agreement not to join a union or be fired. Courts upheld the legality of yellow dog contracts and frequently struck down state laws that sought to outlaw them. The enactment of the Wagner Act in 1935 (29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.) finally put an end to these types of agreements.

The U.S. Supreme Court's hostility to efforts by government to outlaw the yellow dog contract was rooted in the concept of "liberty of contract." Near the end of the nineteenth century, the Court used the due process provisions of the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution to strike down federal and state laws regulating business. These amendments provide that no government was to "deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law." The Court interpreted this prohibition to include the negotiating of terms of employment between an employer and an employee.

Wikipedia

A yellow-dog contract (or a "yellow dog contract" or a yellow-dog clause of a contract or an Ironclad Oath) is an agreement between an employer and an employee in which the employee agrees, as a condition of employment, not to be a member of a labor union. In the United States, such contracts were, until the 1930s, widely used by employers to prevent the formation of unions, most often by permitting employers to take legal action against union organizers. In 1932, yellow-dog contracts were outlawed in the United States under the Norris-LaGuardia Act.

The term yellow-dog clause can also have a different meaning: non-compete clauses within or appended to a non-disclosure agreement to prevent an employee from working for other employers in the same industry.