The National Labor Relations Board is an independent federal agency created by Congress in 1935 to administer the National Labor Relations Act, the primary law governing relations between unions and employers in the private sector. The statute guarantees the right of employees to organize and to bargain collectively with their employers or to refrain from all such activity. Generally applying to all employers involved in interstate commerce--other than airlines, railroads, agriculture, and government--the Act implements the national labor policy of assuring free choice and encouraging collective bargaining as a means of maintaining industrial peace. Through the years, Congress has amended the Act and the Board and courts have developed a body of law drawn from the statute.
The formal right of workers in the U.S. to organize unions and bargain collectively has been codified numerous times in legislation and court interpretation. The landmark 1935 National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) assures most workers a variety of specific organizing rights. Section 7 of the NLRA grants workers the right to publicly support unionization and submit grievances without reprisal. Section 8 explicitly prohibits employers from punishing or discriminating against workers for union activity.