- "As Long as There Survives": Contemplating the Wagner Act after Eighty Years
- Labor: Studies in Working-Class History of the Americas
- Duke University Press
- Volume 14, Number 2, May 2017
- pp. 21-42
- View Citation
- Additional Information
In light of the current crisis afflicting the labor movement, historian Joseph McCartin revisits the 1935 National Labor Relations Act (Wagner Act) eight decades after its passage and the Supreme Court ruling that upheld its constitutionality. That act constituted a "momentous shift in the nation's jurisprudence," but making it a living reality required American workers' efforts on the ground. In this Up for Debate roundtable, McCartin poses critical questions: How should we evaluate the legacy of the Wagner Act? What did it mean in its time? How did it shape the course of US labor history? What significance does it hold for us in our present context? McCartin and three respondents—Craig Becker, Dorothy Sue Cobble, and Katherine Stone—address these questions and debate their responses, offering both historiographical assessments and historically informed suggestions about the labor movement's path forward.