National Labor Relations Act

The National Labor Relations Act (or Wagner Act) is a 1935 United States federal law that limits the means with which employers may react to workers in the private sector that create labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of concerted activity in support of their demands. The Act does not, on the other hand, cover those workers who are covered by the Railway Labor Act, agricultural employees, domestic employees, supervisors, federal, state or local government workers, independent contractors and some close relatives of individual employers.



The NLRA defined and prohibited unfair labor practices including the following:

  • Interfering with, restraining or coercing employees in their rights under Section 7. These rights include freedom of association, mutual aid or protection, self-organization, to form, join, or assist labor organizations, to bargain collectively for wages and working conditions through representatives of their own choosing, and to engage in other protected concerted activities with or without a union.
  • Assisting or dominating a labor organization.
  • Discriminating against employees to encourage or discourage acts support of a labor organization.
  • Discriminating against employees who file charges or testify.


Key principles also include:

  • Protecting a wide range of activities, whether a union is involved or not, in order to promote organization and collective bargaining.
  • Protecting employees as a class and expressly not on the basis of a relationship with an employer.
  • There can be only one exclusive bargaining representative for a unit of employees.
  • Employers have a duty to bargain with the representative of its employees.


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