This year marks the 80th anniversary of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Signed into law in 1935 by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the NLRA gave working people the opportunity to speak up together for better wages and working conditions.
Through its history, the NLRA has proven itself to be a foundational component of the middle class that has become such a vital component of an overall balanced economy.
The NLRA has served us in good times and bad. Our economy has changed in the decades since its initial enactment, but current economic dynamics show us that the NLRA is as important as ever.
Given its history, it is especially important in this day and age to realize that the NLRA can serve to address some of our biggest economic problems, wage inequality chief among them. The gap between rich and poor in the US has widened significantly and middle class has shrunk accordingly.
Working people are right to reject this as the “new normal” and seek a better life. The millennial generation has especially shown a real willingness to support the labor movement in its fight against inequality because they see the harmful effects it has on their economic prospects. They believe in the simple notion that people should be paid for the work they do.
On this Labor Day, let’s reflect on how forward thinking policies like the NLRA and other laws that protect working people have paved the way for economic prosperity. Let’s consider the success it has had in strengthening our lives and use it as a roadmap toward a more prosperous future for us all.
Happy Labor Day!
Tim Burga is the president of the Ohio AFL-CIO.