The main codification of federal labor law is in Title 29 of the US Code. The annotated version of Title 29 is available in print at call number KF62.W4 or from Westlaw or Lexis.
West's collection of labor statutes is here:
Agency regulations involving labor law can be found in Title 29 of the Code of Federal Regulations, as well as scattered amongst the other titles. To find specific regulations, consult the CFR's index (call number KF70.A2) or search the CFR on Westlaw or Lexis.
It may also be useful to investigate individual laws. Following is a list of major federal labor statutes. The list is not exhaustive; if you are looking for a particular statute that is not listed here, try the index to the US Code or a popular name table.
|Labor Law Statute||Statutes at Large citation (enter into Westlaw/Lexis to get original text of the Act, or in print at call number KF.50)||Modern US Code Codification|
Railway Labor Act (1926)
Created the National Railway Adjustment Board, National Air Transport Adjustment Board, and the National Mediation Board; addresses labor disputes within the railway and airline industries.
|44 Stat. 577||45 U.S.C. 151-188|
Norris LaGuardia Act (1932)
Severely limits courts' power to issue injunctions prohibiting activities related to collective bargaining, such as strikes, pickets, etc.
|47 Stat. 70||29 U.S.C. 101-115|
National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) (1935)
AKA the Wagner Act. The foundation of private sector labor law in the United States today. Created the NLRB, defines unfair labor practices, and establishes procedures for elections to determine union representation and to resolve grievances.
|49 Stat. 449||29 U.S.C. 151-169|
Labor Management Relations Act (LMRA) (1947)
Amended the NLRA, most notably by outlawing secondary boycotts by labor unions and establishing the NLRB's General Counsel to handle that agency's prosecution of unfair labor practices.
|61 Stat. 136||29 U.S.C. 141-187|
Labor-Management Reporting and Disclosure Act (LMRDA) (1959)
AKA the Landrum-Griffin Act. Established rights and responsibilities of unions toward employees and employers; includes duties to keep certain records, make certain information available, and recognize employees' rights to fair representation within their union. Also addresses elections and fiscal responsibility within labor unions.
|73 Stat. 519||29 U.S.C. 401-531|
Civil Service Reform Act (1978)
Extensively addresses labor relations for employees of the federal government, including collective bargaining procedures for public sector employees.
|92 Stat. 1111||5 U.S.C. 7101-7135|
Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act (WARN) (1988)
Sets certain advance notice requirements for employers closing plants or making mass layoffs.
|102 Stat. 890||29 U.S.C. 2102-2109|
Virtually every collective bargaining agreement requires that disputes arising out of its interpretation and application with regard to individual employees or groups of employees be resolved by binding arbitration. Note that the union, in its representative capacity, and not the individual employee, is the grievant in such matters. Arbitrators' decisions are therefore important for understanding how particular issues are being analyzed. Understanding how particular arbitrators are likely to decide a matter is useful to parties in an arbitration in the same way that judges' opinions are useful to litigants in traditional courts. Arbitrators' opinions do not create binding precedent.
Administrative Law Judges and other Administrative Decisions
Many disputes involving labor law are first adjudicated by an administrative law judge, or "ALJ." ALJs are employed by administrative agencies, part of the executive, not the judicial branch of government. ALJs interpret and apply the regulations administrative agencies promulgate, and their decisions can be appealed to the judiciary. A published decision of the NLRB often, but not always, contains the decision of the administrative law judge which is being appealed.
Courts interpret and apply regulations and statutes. Depending on the nature of a dispute and the governing law, it may be heard first by a trial court, or a matter may be appealed to a trial court after administrative relief has been exhausted. The opinions of trial courts can, in turn, be appealed to higher, appellate courts. Decisions of the NLRB are appealed directly to the federal circuit courts; although district courts may issue certain kinds of injunctions in labor disputes, they do not hear appeals from NLRB decisions. There are also some databases that contain only labor-related cases.