Why is it called the Wagner Act?

The National Labor Relations Act aka the Wagner Act is the central and most important piece of labor legislation enacted in the 20th century. It’s nickname, the Wagner Act, is after its sponsor, Senator Robert Wagner of New York. This is typical of Washington legislature, the sponsor or sponsors (Norris-LaGuardia) get attached as the nickname of the bill. In cases like Wagner who had several pieces of major legislation attached to him, only one his most important or signature piece, to avoid confusion, gets his name.

Senator Robert F. Wagner had so many pieces of legislature his name would have plastered the Congressional record and been totally confusing, thus while he sponsored the Social Security Act of 1936, the National Industrial recovery Act of 1933, the Federal Emergency Relief Administration bill also 1933 (establishing the Civilian Conservation Corps (1933) and the Wagner-Steagall act creating low-cost public housing, only the last gets his epithet. This plethora of New Deal bills makes the German born Wagner the major architect of the modern welfare state. The only piece of legislation he sponsored that failed was single-payor health care.

Who was Wagner?

Robert Ferdinand Wagner was born in 1885 in Prussia of Jewish parentage. His family emigrated to the US when he was about eight years old. He was a graduate of City University, and New York Law School. Before going to the Senate, Wagner was a justice of the New York Supreme Court. He was a major ally of fellow New Yorker, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and sponsored most of what is now called the New Deal (that was obvious by the list above) the lynch pin of US Democratic politics.

After retiring from the Senate because of health in 1949, Wagner, helped craft the nation of Israel. Obviously Wagner was a tremendous force in twentieth century politics because of his far reaching global effect.

What did the Wagner Act do?

It created the National Labor Relations Board guaranteeing workers the right to bargain collectively ala trade unions without jeopardizing their jobs. It is the buttress of labor relations in America still and declares the labor policy of the federal government is to encourage the practice of collective bargaining, as well as protection of worker designation of representatives to negotiate terms and conditions of employment.

The Act uses federal coercion to make it easier to unionize enterprises and their employees in the private sector who otherwise would not participate in unionization and collective bargaining. The main regulatory features of the act were.

  1. The creation of a politically appointed board, the National Labor Relations Board, to enforce the act, escaping the “anti-union” rulings from courts of law.
  2. The specification of multiple “unfair labor practices” by enterprises to hamper their resistance to organized labor.
  3. NLRB enforcement of majority elections for union representation.
  4. NLRB determination of voter eligibility.
  5. NLRB enforcement of exclusive (monopoly) bargaining for all employees in a bargaining “unit” by NLRB-certified members only.
  6. NLRB enforcement of union pay rates for all employees represented, whether union members or not.

Many in the Congress voted for the Act believing that the Supreme Court would turn it down as unconstitutional, as it had the NIRA 1 The NIRA or The National Industrial Recovery Act was one of the many Roosevelt interventions to boost prices and wage rates on the mistaken theory that falling wages and prices were causing the depression, rather than being market-driven adjustments to re-coordinate the economy and restore production and employment after the frothy 20s. NIRA’s goal was to cartelize both industry and labor markets by raising prices throughout the economy. It was struck down by the Supreme Court in the famous Schechter Poultry case of 1935 on the grounds that the act delegated unlimited legislative power to the president.

Political cartoon with the caption ‘Do We Want A Ventriloquist Act In The Supreme Court?’ The cartoon, a criticism of FDR’s New Deal, depicts President Franklin D. Roosevelt with six new judges likely to be FDR puppets. USA, 14 February 1937. from a student at Baruch College, City University of New York.

Roosevelt though, saw the SCOTUS repeal coming, so he checked the Supremes with his famous threat to pack the court: SCOTUS balked and okayed the law in compliance. This marked a major turning point where Congress and ultimately the American people realized relying on the Court to right legislative economic wrongs was going to be rare. Click here for that list.

The Wagner Act Chart

The Wagner Act was signed into law by President Franklin Roosevelt on July 5th, 1935. I am giving it the same time as I did the Norris_LaGuardia Act of 1 o’clock in the afternoon; there is no time mentioned for its signing.

The chart dominated by a grand trine in water is a locomotive, an aspect that tends to be single minded in its goal. In this chart the goal is the sextile in the south between the ninth and eleventh houses thus effectively creating a Kite aspect, created by the husband and wife team of Bruno & Louise Huber who called them originally a trapeze.

Outside of the yod and cradle (another Huber invention), kites are one of the few modern aspects we have found that consistently work. Here the kite supports the locomotive encouraging the chart to rely on the legislature (ninth house preponderance) for enforcement and the union apparatus for expansion into all reaches of employment.

Huber Aspect Creations

The chart also has the Cradle configuration which encourages laziness and the reliance on fate, or here the law, to do the heavy lifting for the Trade Union. This Cradle is strong filled with the two luminaries, and then one traditional outer social planet of Jupiter and one modern social planet of Uranus, which create their own opposition.

This latter aspect then creates a T-Square going to the midheaven conjunct Pluto (the masses) again in the ninth house. Because of the grand trine in water, there is no way to escape the train or borrow a lyric, while you can enter the employment market any time you want, you can never leave. 2 Hotel California by the Eagles c. 1977

This happens because everything here is so entwined thanks to the single-mindedness of the locomotive. The laziness of the cradle, and the helping hands of the kite, all reinforce that central idea that it easier to go with the monomaniacal flow and join the union than buck (Uranus in the seventh) the trend and be a solo operator.

The Fixed Star connection

The ascendant of 23 Libra 53, Hope, is conjunct the fixed star Spica and nearby Arcturus, perhaps supporting the hope that the Supremes would nullify this law. Alas Arcturus lost in this battle of the stars probably because the locomotive would not give up (the FDR threat) and thus Spica with the nature of Venus (accumulation and holding onto to what is gained) and Mars (fight to the end) brought the Act great success.

Sometimes you just have to wonder if an astrologer isn’t on board in Congress, don’t you?

Footnotes:

  • 1
    The NIRA or The National Industrial Recovery Act was one of the many Roosevelt interventions to boost prices and wage rates on the mistaken theory that falling wages and prices were causing the depression, rather than being market-driven adjustments to re-coordinate the economy and restore production and employment after the frothy 20s. NIRA’s goal was to cartelize both industry and labor markets by raising prices throughout the economy. It was struck down by the Supreme Court in the famous Schechter Poultry case of 1935 on the grounds that the act delegated unlimited legislative power to the president.
  • 2
    Hotel California by the Eagles c. 1977
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