The National Labor Relations Act 1935

The National Labor Relations Act 1935
The National Labor Relations Act 1935

The National Labor Relations Act 1935

President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed this bill, sometimes known as the Wagner Act, into law on July 5, 1935. It established the National Labor Interactions Board and addressed the issue of private-sector union-employer relations.

After the Supreme Court deemed the National Industrial Recovery Act unconstitutional, organized labor sought redress against companies who had been permitted to spy on, question, discipline, dismiss, and blacklist union members. Workers began to organize militantly in the 1930s, and a wave of strikes erupted across the country in the form of citywide general strikes and plant takeovers in 1933 and 1934. Workers attempting to organize unions clashed violently with police and private security forces supporting the interests of anti-union companies.

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) was passed in July 1935 by a Congress favorable to labor organizations. Employees were guaranteed “the right to self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining or other mutual aid and protection,” according to the Wagner Act, which was named after Senator Robert R. Wagner of New York. Except for airlines, railways, farms, and government, the NLRA applies to all employers involved in interstate commerce.

The act established provisions for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to arbitrate deadlocked labor-management conflicts, guarantee democratic union elections, and penalize unfair labor practices by employers in order to protect and maintain such rights. The President appoints five members to the board, which is supported by 33 regional directors. The NLRB also establishes suitable bargaining units, holds elections for union representation, and investigates employer allegations of unfair labor practices. Interference, coercion, or restraint of labor’s self-organization rights; interference with the formation of labor unions; encouragement or discouragement of union membership; and refusal to bargain collectively with duly elected employee representatives are all considered unfair practices under the law.

In 1937, the United States Supreme Court upheld the NLRA’s legality in National Labor Relations Board v. Jones & Laughlin Steel Corp. The act resulted in a huge increase in union membership, establishing labor as a political and economic power to be reckoned with. This shift to unionization benefited both men and women. By the end of the 1930s, 800,000 women had joined labor unions, up from 200,000 in 1929. The Taft-Hartley Labor Act of 1947 and the Landrum-Griffin Act of 1959 both expanded the NLRA’s provisions.

SEE ALSO:

Recognition of Labor Unions (1842);

FDR and the Court-Packing Plan (1937);

The Fair Labor Standards Act (1938).

SOURCES:

The Securities Exchange Act 1934

The Law Book: From Hammurabi to the International Criminal Court, 250 Milestones in the History of Law (Sterling Milestones) Hardcover – Illustrated, 22 Oct. 2015, English edition by Michael H. Roffer (Autor)

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