Congress in 1935 passed the National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act), which was the first of the three federal laws that govern labor relations in the United States. The other two laws, passed in 1947 and 1959, respectively, were the Taft-Hartley Act and the Landrum-Griffin Act. These statutes guarantee the right of private employees to form and join unions in order to bargain collectively. The vast majority of states have extended union rights to public employees.
Additional federal statutes affect the labor rights of employees. A summary of the major federal labor statutes is as follows:
- The Norris-LaGuardia Anti-Injunction Act, passed in 1932, restricted federal courts from issuing injunctions in labor disputes except in some very limited conditions.
- The Wagner Act in 1935 set forth many of the basic protections offered under the labor statutes, including the restriction against employers interfering with or otherwise restraining the ability of employees to organize to bargain collectively.
- The Brynes Anti-Strikebreaking Act of 1938 restricted the interstate transportation of anyone being used to interfere with peaceful picketing in the process of collective bargaining or labor dispute.
- The Hobbs Anti-Racketeering Act of 1946 prevented unions from extorting money from nonunion employees.
- The Taft-Hartley Act in 1947 brought a balance between the rights of employees and employers, which was believed to favor employees and unions over employers. Among the provisions included restrictions on unfair labor practices by unions.
- The Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure of 1959, or Landrum-Griffin Act, established a code of conduct for unions and contained significant amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act. The code of conduct guaranteed certain rights to union members, which was necessary after findings of wrongdoing by unions and their officers. The amendments to the Taft-Hartley Act added some rights to unions and union members but also placed restrictions on union strikes, picketing, and boycotts.