"The Wagner Act...[was] the single most important piece of labor legislation enacted in the United States in the 20th century." [www.britannica.com]
American Federation of Labor [AFL]
The American Federation of Labor [AFL] was the premier labor organization in the United States, founded in 1886 from a series of unions severed from a national labor union, the Knights of Labor. In 1935, the AFL was confronted by several of its members who felt the organization was too engrossed with traditional craftsmen, and broke off to form a separate federation. In 1955, the AFL consolidated with the Congress for Industrial Organization [CIO] to form the AFL-CIO, which is the most influential labor federation in the U.S.A.
FCEA Union President Michael Itkoff on the importance of labor unions
Division in the AFL over skilled and unskilled laborers
The Wagner Act
The National Labor Relations Act, more commonly known as the Wagner Act, was passed in 1935 by Congress "to protect workers' right to unionization" [www.stfrancis.edu]. It guaranteed basic rights of employees to organize in trade unions, engage in collective bargaining for better conditions at work, and take actions such as strikes if necessary. The Wagner Act also "established the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB]...to oversee the laws, investigate and hold hearings on unfair labor practice complaints, take action against employees found guilty of unfair labor practices..." [www.stfrancis.edu].
Senator Robert F. Wagner on the Benefits of the Wagner Act
The Case Bill
In the early months of 1946, Congress adopted a bill proposed by Representative Case, and it "prescribed a sixty-day cooling-off period before any strike could be called...loss of all rights under the Wagner Act for workers who quit their jobs during the periods...banned secondary boycotts and jurisdictional strikes...authorized the use of injunctions to prevent violent picketing" [Dulles, 356]. After the crises in coal and on the railroads, "the Senate hurriedly fell in line [with the House, who had already approved it] and approved the Case bill" [Dulles, 356]. It was very similar to the later Taft-Hartley Act, and was swiftly vetoed by President Truman, who argued that it only solved the symptoms of industrial turmoil, and turned a blind eye to the controversial causes of the unrest. The anti-laborers of Congress were incapable of conjuring up enough votes to overrule Truman's veto, but they won crucial control of Congress during the elections of 1946, putting them in a great position to pass future "restrictive legislation" towards labor unions [Dulles, 356].
FCEA Union President Michael Itkoff on the events preceding the act