National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) Law and Legal Definition

The National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) is a federal law enacted in 1935. It is also known as Wagner Act named after Robert F. Wagner. It was enacted by Congress, to govern the employer/employee bargaining and union relationship on a national level. Most employers and employees involved in businesses that affect interstate commerce are regulated by the act.

NLRA aims to encourage the practice and procedure of good faith collective bargaining. It also protects the exercise of full freedom of association and self-organization by workers. The workers can designate representatives of their own choosing, for the purpose of negotiating the terms and conditions of their employment or other mutual aid or protection. NLRA sets limitations to the means with which employers respond to workers in the private sector that create labor unions, engage in collective bargaining, and take part in strikes and other forms of combined activity in support of their demands. It protects employees as a class and not on the basis of a relationship with an employer.

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) established under the NLRA hears disputes between employers and employees arising under the act. NLRB determines which labor organization will represent a unit of employees. The right to strike is also guaranteed by the NLRA.

The NLRA seeks to limit industrial discord among employers, employees, and labor organizations. It aims to ensure industrial peace and thus achieve full economic production in the U.S. economy.

The act does not 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.

Employers and employees not covered by the NLRA are regulated by the states.