National Labor Relations Act
When and Why
This act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt and enacted by congress on July 5th of 1935
It was meant to protect the rights of employees and employers, encourage the use of collective bargaining, and to reduce certain labor and management practices, which can harm the general welfare of workers, businesses, and the US economy
- Collective bargaining: The process by which wages, hours, rules, and working conditions are negotiated and agreed upon by a union with an employer for all the employees collectively
The NLRA was created to meet the need for new authority in the industrial market. It was created off the idea that people are vital to industry and should be respected.
- Prohibits unfair labor practices such as threatening workers, firing union members, and interfering with the union organization
- This act meets the need to control the employers and the employees.
Senator Robert F.Wagner, Speech on the National Labor Relations Act (February 21, 1935)
Actions Taken by the NRLA
One of the biggest actions taken was the creation of the National Labor Relations Board
Members are appointed by the president
approved by the senate
Originally the board was created with three members but now they have five
The board solves disputes and issues rulings about labor relations
One of the great labor successors of the New Deal
Skilled workers were able to unionized because they were not easily replaced
Primary functions of the Board
- to decide if an appropriate bargaining unit of employees exists for collective bargaining (when petitioned by employees)
- to determine whether the employees in a business or industry wish to be represented by labor unions (through the use of secret ballots)
- to eliminate existing unfair labor practices by employees or unions and prevent any other unfair labor practices from occurring
Walter Reuther - On working life in America before the Wagner Act
Slogan Supporting the Revolutionary Thinking of the Wagner Act
Impact and Effectiveness of the Act
The NLRA improved conditions for workers in many ways. Thanks to this act, private sectors cannot refuse to bargain with union leaders, interfere with unionizing efforts, rule over a union, or discriminate against union members or supporters.
The board has made it a priority to specify such practices that are deemed unfair that management must avoid.
Unfortunately for supporters of the bill, the National Labor Relations Act was greatly limited by the Taft-Hartley Act. The Taft-Hartley Act prohibited the closed-shop, which makes union membership a condition of employment, and allowed states to forbid the agency shops which charges a fee to non-union members, It also narrowed the definition of unfair labor practices, whilst broadening the definition of unfair union practices.
The Landrum-Griffin act was further weakened by banning secondary boycotts and limiting the right to picket.
As shown in the image below, many were outraged by the attempt of Republican business leaders to undo the work of the Wagner Act.
Reaction of the American People to the Reform Effort
Workers on the other hand rejoiced over the fact that they were guaranteed fairer conditions in the work force. They had suffered so much injustice from large companies and industries and would finally have a chance to earn what they deserved. Skilled workers were not easily replaced so they would become more largely valued. Unskilled workers would still receive many benefits and better treatment as well.
The government varied on their views of the act. Democrats were largely supportive of the bill and the fact that they were looking out for the working class. Republicans viewed it as going against the best interest of business owners and management.
"The 1935 Passage of the Wagner Act." National Labor Relations Board. National Labor
Relations Board, n.d. Web. 12 Feb. 2016
"Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum - Our Documents."Franklin D.
Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum - Our Documents. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
"Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum." Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum. Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library and Museum, n.d. eb. 16 Feb. 2016.
"National Labor Relations Act." National Labor Relations Board. National Labor Relations Board,n.d. Web. 13 Feb. 2016.
"Walter Reuther: quote on conditions before the National Labor Relations Act." American History. ABC-CLIO, 2016. Web. 15 Feb. 2016.
"Wagner Act." Encyclopedia Britannica. Encyclopedia Britannica, Inc., 2016. Web. 12 Feb. 2016.