How Did the Clayton Antitrust Act Benefit Labor?

The Clayton Antitrust Act was passed in 1914 in an effort to increase the effectiveness of existing antitrust legislation in the United States by limiting anti-competitive practices while they were still in their earliest forms. It prohibited a number of common schemes conducted by businesses in order to artificially inflate prices, decrease wages and work around the free market. This made it beneficial to consumers and workers alike.

The first antitrust act past by the US Congress was the Sherman Antitrust Act of 1890. The Clayton Act further clarified and added to this act, refined the earlier policies. In addition to addressing issues like price fixing, the forming of monopolies and other schemes conducted by businesses, it also granted important rights to members of labor unions. Peaceful strikes and boycotts were specifically mentioned in the Clayton Antitrust Act as legal and beneficial for promoting a healthy economy.

Some of the provisions in the earlier Sherman Antitrust Act could be interpreted as applying to labor unions as well as businesses, and they had hampered the ability of unions to organize in the past. The Clayton Act clarified these points, specifying that they only applied to businesses, and granted unions more freedom than before.