July 5 marked the 75th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act—also known as the Wagner Act—one of the lesser known, but key components of President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. In addition to Social Security, Unemployment Insurance, a federal minimum wage and laws regulating child labor—all controversial concepts at the time that we now take for granted as basic elements of fairness—the New Deal included the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) which protected workers’ rights to join or form unions and engage in collective bargaining.
The NLRA was signed into law when our nation was in the grip of the Great Depression. At a time when the economy was spinning out of control, some critics were hesitant about a law that empowered workers. Sound familiar?
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