Wagner Act (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The Wagner Act, also known as the National Labor Relations Act of 1935 (29 U.S.C.A. § 151 et seq.), is the most important piece of labor legislation enacted in U.S. history. It made the federal government the arbiter of employer-employee relations through the creation of the NATIONAL LABOR RELATIONS BOARD (NLRB) and recognized for the first time the right of workers to organize and bargain collectively with their employers. The act overturned decades of court decisions that asserted that LABOR UNIONS violated an employee's liberty of contract.
Senator ROBERT F. WAGNER, a Democrat from New York, introduced the legislation in 1935, when the United States was in the midst of the Great Depression. President FRANKLIN D. ROOSEVELT initially opposed the legislation out of fear that labor organizing might interfere with economic recovery, but gave his support when passage became inevitable.
Congress based its right to pass national labor-management legislation on the U.S. Con stitution's COMMERCE CLAUSE. The act states that unequal bargaining power between employees and employers leads to economic instability, whereas the refusal of employers to recognize the right to bargain collectively leads to strikes. Because these disturbances impede the flow of interstate commerce, Congress may take steps to continue the free flow of commerce by encouraging COLLECTIVE BARGAINING and...
(The entire section is 696 words.)
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