Duhaime's Law Dictionary

Wagner Act Definition:

The informal name of the National Labor Relations Act of the United States of America (NLRA).

Related Terms: Taft-Hartley

A 1935 American federal statute which recognized employee rights to collective bargaining, protected the right to belong to a union, prohibited many anti-union tactics then used by employers, and set up the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

The American Jurisprudence, 2nd Edition describes the Wagner Act as:

"... the genesis of today's federal comprehensive code to regulate labor relations which affect interstate and foreign commerce and, as amended, embodies the national labor policy of the United States."

In Nash v Florida Industrial Commission, Justice Black, then of the United States Supreme Court:

"The National Labor Relations Act is a comprehensive code passed by Congress to regulate labor relations in activities affecting interstate and foreign commerce. As such it is of course the law of the land which no state law can modify or repeal."

Two years later, in Trainmen v Jacksonville Terminal, Justice Harlan of that same court cautiously referred to the Wagner Act as a "national labor policy" and a "comprehensive national labor scheme".

The NLRB was given wide enforcement powers.

The Wagner Act was later amended by the Taft-Hartley Act in 1947.

The Wagner Act is contained within the United States Code as Chapter 29. At §151 thereof, the purpose of the statute is declared:

"... to eliminate the causes of certain substantial obstructions to the free flow of commerce and to mitigate and eliminate these obstructions when they have occurred by encouraging the practice and procedure of collective bargaining and by protecting the exercise by workers of full freedom of association, self-organization, and designation of representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection."


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