The National Labor Relations Act

The NLRA was enacted by Congress in 1935. It was hailed at the time and for many years after as the Magna Carta of America labor. Previously, employers had been free to spy on, interrogate, discipline, discharge, and blacklist union members. But in the 1930's workers began to organize militantly.

A great strike wave in 1933 and 1934 included citywide general strikes and factory takeovers. Violent confrontations occurred between workers trying to form unions and the police and private security forces defending the interests of anti-union employers. Some historians believe that Congress adopted the NLRA primarily in the hopes of averting greater, possible revolutionary, labor unrest.

The NLRA guaranteed workers the right to join unions without fear of management reprisal. It created the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to enforce this right and prohibited employers from committing unfair labor practices that might discourage organizing or prevent workers from negotiating a union contract.

The NLRA's passage galvanized union organizing. Successful campaigns soon followed in the automobile, steel, electrical, manufacturing, and rubber industries. By 1945, union membership reached 35% of the work-force. In reaction, industrialists, and other opponents of organized labor sought to weaken the NLRA. They succeeded in 1947 with the passage of the Taft-Hartly Act, which added provisions to the NLRA allowing unions to be prosecuted, enjoined, and sued for a variety of activities, including mass picketing and secondary boycotts.

The last major revision of the NLRA occurred in 1959, when Congress imposed further restrictions on unions in the Landrum-Griffin Act.

To review the entire National Labor Relations Act check out the link below:

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