Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161 (1908), is one of four cases chronicling the saga of “yellow-dog contracts,” so named by labor stalwarts depicting those who signed them as equivalent to the lowest breed of mongrel dog. These contracts were characterized by terms prohibiting current and potential employees from joining or retaining membership in labor unions and came into increasing use as labor unions began to expand their influence in the early 20th century.

Pressured by unions, Congress enacted the Erdman Act (1908), in part criminalizing the ...

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