How Did the Wagner Act Help Workers?

The Wagner Act protects American workers' rights to unionize without fear of retribution from private employers. Also known as the National Labor Relations Act, the Wagner Act established the National Labor Relations Board and guaranteed the right of collective bargaining for employees in the private sector.

In 1935, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Wagner Act into law. This worker-friendly law was part of Roosevelt's progressive approach to politics during the New Deal era. Prior to the passage of this law, workers were theoretically able to organize into unions, but their employers could also work to prevent this organization by spying on, coercing, terminating and interrogating workers. The struggle between workers and employers could turn violent, causing police and private security to clash with pro-union laborers. Now, it is possible for workers to unionize without fear of repercussions and to collectively bargain with and even strike against their employers.