Yellow-dog Contract

Posted by Masakim on March 04, 2003

In Reply to: Yellow-dog Contract posted by Word Camels on March 04, 2003

: : Any idea why a "yellow-dog contract", i. e., "an employment contract in which a worker disavows membership in and agrees not to join a labor union in order to get a job" is so called? Thanks for any information.

: I suspect that it was called "yellow-dog" by workers in the union because only a cowardly (yellow) dog would agree to give up the right to organise just to get a job.

: According to the "Labor-Pedia" I found, the Erdman act of 1898 outlawed the railroad's use of yellow-dog contracts in the United States. The act came as a direct result of the Pullman Strike of 1894. I'm guessing the term and many others must have come into being around that time (1836-1900) as a direct result of the birth of the labour movement.

: "Blackleg", a term used in 1834 to describe a craftsman who "undercut others or replaced others at a lower wage" is another term I found in the Labor-Pedia.

: Camel

yellow-dog contracts. The yellow dog, generally considered to be a cowardly common cur or mongrel, has long been a symbol of utter worthlessness in America. The term _yellow dog_ has been used in expressions of contempt since at least 1833, when it is first so recorded, and towards the late 19th century it began to be heard in the term _yellow-dog contract_, a contract in which company employees do not or cannot join the union. Though outlawed by the Wagner Act in 1935, yellow-dog contracts still persist.
From Encyclopedia of Word and Phrase Origins by Robert Hendrickson
That yaller dog has broke his chain, and bit a [word removed in order to comply with Google's Publisher Policy]! (J.S. Jones, _Green Mountain Boys_, 1833)
The presiding officer had lost control, and a surging crowd of yellow dogs had the floor. (E.W. Nye, _Bill Nye & Boomerang_, 1894)
Yellow dog contracts ... provide that the miner shall not join a union while in the employ of the company. (_Motorman and Conductor_, October 1920)