Mid-Life Crisis: The NLRB at Fifty

Mid-Life Crisis: The NLRB at Fifty

Fifty years ago next July, Congress enacted the National Labor Relations Act, then better known as the Wagner Act after its chief sponsor, Senator Robert F. Wagner of New York. The act was termed “Labor’s bill of rights,” and indeed it was, declaring that American workers had a federally protected

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 or protection.

But if labor chooses to celebrate this landmark anniversary, it will do so with anger toward the act’s principal custodian, the National Labor Relations Board. AFL–CIO President Lane Kirkland recently suggested that the act be scrapped entirely, and that labor and management return to economic warfare, unprotected and unrestrained by federal law.