Wagner Act

Also found in: Legal, Financial.

Wagner Act


(official name, National Labor Relations Act), in the USA, the law regulating labor relations adopted on July 5, 1935. Named after its author, Senator R. Wagner.

The adoption of the Wagner Act was brought about by the attempt of the government of the USA to dampen the extremely sharp class contradictions associated with the world economic crisis of 1929-33. The act proclaimed the right of workers to organize, conclude collective contracts, and strike and the legalization of certain kinds of strikes. The act prohibited the employer from violating the workers’ right to conclude collective contracts and refusing to conclude such contracts, from exerting influence over trade unions, and from discrimination in hiring or firing for reasons of trade-union activity or the workers’ exercising their legal rights. On the basis of the Wagner Act the National Labor Relations Board was founded and was entrusted with broad authority, including the right to restore fired workers to their jobs. The constitutionality of the Wagner Act was recognized by the Supreme Court of the USA in 1937. As a federal act, the Wagner Act applied only to workers employed in federal enterprises; however it also influenced the legislation of states, the majority of which adopted the so-called little Wagner acts.

In practice, the application of the Wagner Act met with opposition from employers who used the administrative and judicial apparatus to try to negate the concessions won by the working class. As early as 1943 the rights of workers were restricted by the Smith-Connally Act. In 1947 the anti- labor Taft-Hartley Act was adopted, which virtually replaced the Wagner Act.

References in periodicals archive ?
In 1935, after a lengthy fight in Congress and in the courts, the Wagner Act was passed.
A September 1935 New York Times (1935e) article noted, "An opinion widely held among lawyers and industrialists is that the Wagner Act is unconstitutional for the same reasons that the NRA was ruled unconstitutional by the Supreme Court--that its provisions could not apply to companies that were transacting an interstate business.
Translating that from legalese into plain English, the justification for the Wagner Act starts with the recognition that Congress is empowered to make laws regulating interstate commerce and that labor disputes often lead to disruptions in interstate commerce, then finishes with the assertion that the cause of those disruptions is the resistance of employers to reach agreements with their employees through collective bargaining.
Section 8(3) of the Wagner Act allowed for "agreements" between employers and officers of a union requiring union membership "as a condition of employment" if the union was certified or recognized as the employees' "exclusive" bargaining agent on matters of pay, benefits, and work rules.
The more-or-less-unexamined move to apply the structures of the Wagner Act and the Taft-Hartley Act to the public sector needs to be reassessed.
The Wagner Act elaborates specific processes and timelines with regard to virtually every aspect of the bargaining process: what constitutes an unfair labour practice; (69) what constitutes legal and illegal picketing; (70) exact timelines for serving notice to bargain (71) and filing for mediation; (72) notifications of intent to strike; (73) procedures for election of union representatives; (74) the make-up and mandate of the National Labour Relations Board; (75) how to deal with essential services; (76) and suspension of the Act during emergencies, (77) among many, many more.
113) Prior to the legitimizing force of the Wagner Act, and
When Congress enacted the Wagner Act in 1935, it acknowledged how the drop in wages during a similar corporate push against workers in the 1920s led to a drop in consumer power, which ultimately led to the great depression.
But because farmworkers are outside the Wagner Act, the president could use executive orders to compel fair treatment of workers, including recognizing their right to organize, wherever a government contractor was involved.