National Labor Relations Act

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The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), also known as the Wagner Act, was enacted in Congress in 1935 and became one of the most important legacies of the New Deal. Prior to the passage of the NLRA, employers had been free to spy on, interrogate, discipline, discharge, and blacklist union members. Reversing years of federal opposition, the statute guaranteed the right of employees to organize labor unions, to engage in collective bargaining, and to take part in strikes. The act also created a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to arbitrate deadlocked labor-management disputes, guarantee democratic union elections, and penalize unfair labor practices by employers. The law applied to all employees involved in the interstate commerce other than airlines, railroads, agriculture, and government. The passage of the NLRA galvanized union organizations. Successful campaigns quickly followed in the automobile, steel, electrical, manufacturing, and rubber industries. By 1945, union membership totaled 35% of the workforce. In response to this growth, opponents of organized labor sought to destabilize the NLRA. In 1947, they succeeded with the passage of the Taft-Hartley Act, which added provisions to the statute allowing unions to be prosecuted, enjoined, and sued for activities such as mass picketing and secondary boycotts. The last major revision to the act occurred in 1959 with restrictions outlawing hot cargo agreements as well as limiting a union's ability to use picketing to obtain union recognition without going through and NLRB conducted election. Further amendments to the act have been attempted; however, there have been no provisions to the statute.

Organizing a Union
The first step in organizing a union is to obtain authorization cards. These cards are signed by an employee and give a union permission to act on their behalf in negotiations. If a majority of employees sign the cards then the union can present the cards to the...
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