The Wagner Act of 1935 is a legal act regulating labor relations in the United States. The Act was passed under the influence of a growing labor movement and was the pinnacle of US liberal labor law.


On July 5, 1935, the Wagner Act was approved by US President F.D. Roosevelt, named after the author of the bill – Senator Robert Wagner. The adoption of the law was due to the need to soften class contradictions aggravated in connection with the Great Depression. The law not only guaranteed the right of workers to organize trade unions, conclude collective agreements, go on strike and pickets, but also created instruments for realizing these rights. The Wagner Act provided for punishment entrepreneurs for dishonest labor practices, violating the declared rights of workers, prosecuting activists and union members, and for using strikebreakers.

The control over the law implementation was entrusted to the National Labor Relations Board, whose decision was obligatory and could only be challenged through the courts. The Board had vast powers, including the right to reinstate laid-off employees. The National Labor Relations Board oversaw the process of creating trade unions and their activities. The Board could also initiate the issue of creating a trade union within the enterprise. The US Supreme Court recognized the constitutionality of the Wagner Act. The law applied only to workers employed at enterprises of national significance is a federal act. However, it influenced state law, most of which passed the so-called minor Wagner laws. The Wagner Act was the most significant step in the establishment of labor legislation in the 20th century and provided Franklin Roosevelt with trade union support during the presidential election.

The significance of the Wagner Act is caused by the presence of a postulated regularity. It can be confirmed in case of a determining fact of the evolution as not only in the public sector but also in the economic system as a whole. If there is an increasing relationship between government expenses and gross domestic product, then A. Wagner was right in predicting economic growth. Therefore, limiting the growth of the public sector is not a priority, although the problem of studying such a restriction takes place. It should be borne in mind that growth processes have saturation, especially if the increase is built on the relationship of parameters. Conventional methods described by A. Wagner also relate to such growth processes. Thus, in the economic evolution, at least at its industrial stage, there is a fundamental structural relationship, which is an inherent characteristic of the development.

In conclusion, the application of the Wagner Act came up against the resistance of entrepreneurs who, using their local influence, sought to minimize concessions to workers. The expansion of trade union rights also had negative aspects. The emergence of closed workshops-enterprises provoked the inability to get a job without being a member of the trade union. Criminal structures established control over several trade unions, which exerted pressure on both workers and entrepreneurs. The Smith-Connally Act was passed in 1943, limiting some of the powers of trade unions. And in 1947, the new Labor Relations Act, the Taft-Hartley Act, essentially replaced Wagner’s Law. Over the years of the Wagner Act, the number of members of American trade unions has tripled, and the vast majority of enterprises have had collective agreements.