National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), federal law enacted by the Congress of the United States in 1935 to govern the labor-management relations of business firms engaged in interstate commerce. The act is generally known as the Wagner Act.
The objective of the act is to guarantee employees "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." To implement and uphold these rights, the act created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Before the enactment of the NLRA, the federal government had refrained almost entirely from supporting collective bargaining over wages and working conditions and from facilitating the growth of trade unions.
III. The Taft-Hartley Act
The Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947, also known as the Taft-Hartley Act, was a series of amendments to the NLRA that aimed to curb the power of organized labor. It emphasized the right of all employees not to join a union and not to participate in collective action. It excluded supervisory employees from the benefits and protection of the NLRA. It forbade the negotiation of any closed-shop agreement between employers and employees. If an employer or employees desired to terminate or modify an existing collective-bargaining agreement, the act required that due notice of such intent be given.
Among the practices engaged in by labor unions that the Taft-Hartley Act classified as unfair are the use of restraint or coercion upon employees to organize and bargain collectively; refusal on the part of a labor union representing any group of employees to bargain collectively with their employer; requiring employees covered by a duly authorized union-shop agreement to pay initiation fees that the NLRB finds excessive or discriminatory; causing or attempting to cause any employer to pay for services not performed; and encouraging employees to engage in a strike or similar action for the purpose of achieving certain specified aims deemed unfair to employers.
The enactment of the Labor-Management Relations Act of 1947 precipitated a fierce controversy between its opponents, who claimed that the act was designed to destroy the labor movement, and its adherents, who contended that the act was essential in order to preserve a balance between the powers of labor and those of management.