Wagner Act Wagner Act What was the need for the Wagner Act? Before the WA, rights of workers were protected by the National Industry Recovery Act of 1933. In 1935, the Supreme Court declared the NIRA unconstitutional. By doing so, workers lost their rights to join unions of their choice and to bargain collectively. In 1935 the unemployment rate was over 21% and more than 50% lived in poverty as we measure it today. Large employers were said to have immense control over their workers who had at best, one single place to work. Those workers were paid less than their economic contribution measured by their productivity. Before the WA, the federal government had refrained from supporting collective bargaining over wages and working conditions and from facilitating growth of trade unions.
This new law marked a significant reversal of this attitude. American Federation of Labor and CIO took advantage of governmental encouragement by carrying out nationwide organizational campaigns. What was the Wagner Act of 1935? The Wagner Act was sponsored by Senator Robert f. Wagner, from New York. Passed in July 1935 with firm support from Franklin D. Roosevelt. The act is more commonly known as the National Labor Relations Act.
Some say the NLRA is the single most important piece of labor legislation enacted in the 20th century in the United States. The law governs the labor-management relations of business firms engaged in interstate commerce. The general objective 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 -New Deal legislation designed to protect workers right to unionization -implements the national labor policy of assuring free choice and encouraging collective bargaining as a means of maintaining industrial peace -Primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector -Established the federal government as the regulator and ultimate arbitrator of labor relations. It set up a permanent, three member National Labor Relations Board with the power to protect the right of most workers(except agricultural,airlines, railroads, and government) to organize unions of their own choosing and to encourage collective bargaining. -gave NLRB power to order elections whereby workers could choose which union they wanted to represent them. -recognized employee rights to collective bargaining,to associate as a group about hours, wages, and working conditions -guaranteed the right of workers to form unions by majority vote and bargain as a unified group -allows employees of certain companies to pick which union or person will negotiate for them -employees may request the NLRB to figure out an election between workers to choose a representative -prohibits employees from interfering with union effort to bring them into unions.
-specifies unfair labor practices for employers -requires employers to bargain in good faith over mandatory issues -employers have the right to negotiate with representatives elected by the workers -prohibited anti-union tactics used by employers -employers said Wagner act gave employees too much power–argued it only allowed unions to force a business to hire only union members(which is a closed shop) -prohibited employers from refusing to bargain with any such union that had been certified by the NLRB as being the choice of a majority of employees -Prohibited employers from engaging in such unfair labor practices such as setting up a company union (formation of company-dominated unions) and fire or discriminate against workers who organized or joined unions. National Labor Relations Board.. What is it? What does it do? The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the national labor relations act, the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sectors. Throughout the years, Congress has amended the Act and the Board and courts have developed a body of law drawn from the statute. -has two primary functions 1) to determine, through secret ballot elections, the free democratic choice by employees whether they wish top be represented by a union in dealing with their employers and if so, by which union 2) to prevent and remedy unlawful acts(unfair labor practices) by either employers or unions -processes only those charges of unfair labor practices and petitions for employee elections that are filed with the NLRB in one of its 52 regional, subregional, or resident offices. -has two major separate components 1) the Board itself has 5 members and primarily acts as a quasi-judicial body in deciding cases on the basis of formal records in administrative proceedings. members are appointed by the president to 5 year terms, with senate consent, the term of one member expiring each year.
2) the General Counsel is appointed by the president to a 4 year term with senate consent, is independent from the board and is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of unfair labor practice cases and for the general supervision of the NLRB field offices in the processing of cases. (unfair labor practices.. examples of.. acts of interfernece,restraint, or coercion upon employees with respect to right to organize and bargain collectively; domination of or interference with the formation or administration of any labor organization, or the contribution of financial or other support thereto; discrimination in regard to hiring or dismissal of employees in order to encourage or discourage membership in any labor organizations; refusal to bargain collectively with the representative chosen by a majority of employees in a bargaining unit deemed appropriate by the NLRB) How are unfair labor practice cases processed? when a charge is filed, the appropriate office conducts an investigation see whether there is reasonable cause that the Act has been violated. It will be dismissed if the regional director thinks the charge is lacking.
A dismissal may be appealed to the General Counsels office. if the regional director finds reasonable cause that a violation of the Act has been committed, the region seeks a voluntary settlement to remedy the violations. If this attempt fails, a formal complaint is filed and the case is heard before an NLRB Administrative Law Judge. the judge issues a written decision that is sent to the 5 member board for a final determination. The boards decision is subject to review in a US Court of Appeals.The General Counsels goal is to complete investigations and, where further proceedings are warranted, issue complaints if settlement is not reached within 7 to 15 weeks from the filing of the charge.
Of the approximately 35,000 charges filed each year, about one third are found to have merit of which over 90% are settled. How has the Wagner Act helped or hurt? Current/future plans? -number of organized workers rose from 3.5 million in 1935 to 15 million in 1947. -in 1995, over 600 lawyers working to pursue legal actions which have the net effect of reducing job opportunities and raising unemployment for American workers.. these attorneys work for the NLRB, an increasingly activist body that intervenes in labor disputes, often promoting cost-increasing settlement that reduce employer incentives to hire workers. – live in a different world today..
in no year in the past half century has the unemployment rate been half of what it was when the Wagner act was passes. poverty rate is two thirds lower.. proportions of Americans working in factory jobs has fallen sharply. The share of labor force that was working in giant Fortune 500 corporations today is barely half of what it was 25 years ago. -with modern transportation and new communication modes, everyone is very aware of abundant job opportunities.. most people do not work in a town where one company dictates wages. -the whole rationale behind the Wagner act is irrelevant in todays world.
the proportion of labor force in unions has fallen from almost one-third in 1945 to under 15 percent today. The private sector is even lower, but around half of union workers now are associated with the government in some form. -the Law of Demand.. higher prices for labor means employers will buy less of it. employers will substitute machines for workers, reduce business volume, or switch productions to overseas to avoid the higher labor costs.
the Wagner act was designed to raise wages.. it led to a decline in the quantity of labor demanded, aggravating unemployment and reducing job opportunities, while its impact on costs tended to raise prices to consumers. -current Clinton administration is apparently trying to increase union power by appointing activists to the NLRB, pressuring employers not to hire replacement workers in strikes. the Clinton administration defends the depression-era legislation that hinders job opportunities for Americans.. instead of adapting American labor law to meet the economic realities and changing environment for the coming millennium.
the time has come to repeal the Wagner Act.. Problems with the NLRA.. small businesses are very vulnerable when hit with frivolous charges of unfair labor. Often times it is the result of a union organizing drive trying to financially squeeze the employer into bowing into union demands. In such cases like this, the NLRB is no longer the neutral arbitrator, but a union accomplice.
(Congress is trying to restore the desperately needed balance and fairness to the proceedings of the NLRB, mainly for the benefit of small businesses. Some people were saying that the NLRB was allowing its procedures to be abused by the unions to inflict economic harm on small businesses and their employers. The acts were the Truth in Employment Act– which would amend the NLRA to make clear that an employer is not required to hire any person who seeks a job in order to promote interests related to those of the employer, the Fair Access to Indemnity and Reimbursement (FAIR) Act– amends the NLRA to reimburse a small business or labor organization prevailing against an NLRB action the attorneys fees and expenses used to defend themselves (since small employers cannot afford the qualified legal representation needed to defend themselves), the Fair Hearing Act– , Justice on Time Act– would shorten the often long delays in the processing of cases by the NLRB, would be required to issue a decision within one year on all unfair labor practice complaints in cases where it is alleged that an employer has discharged an employee in an attempt to discourage or encourage union membership(at time of passing, median time for processing of such cases is 546 days) The NLRA is in major need of reevaluation and amending. It has not been amended in over 40 years and unions are not as popular as they once were in the 1930s.. after W.W.II nearly 40% of the American workforce was unionized and 90% of construction workers belonged to a trade union. Today fewer than 1 in 8 belong to a union and 1 in 5 construction workers belong to a trade union.
Most union members now are of the semiskilled and government workers. -pros of NLRA.. gave employees to chance to increase their economic power, decrease the economic power the employer held. -cons of NLRA.. employee involvement becomes difficult, teamwork is difficult.. with a union everyone must be treated the same and there is no opportunity to reward for true merit. Human Sexuality.