Describe the impact of the National Labor War Board for workers.
The National War Labor Board was an agency of the US federal government established during the wars to adjudicate labor disputes. During World War I, the board was established by President Woodrow Wilson and had a thirteen-month tenure. NWLB’s rulings on cases were informed by principles that sought to balance between employers’ support for status quo and the workforce’s agitation for change. However, the judgment generally favored workers and they gained more from the board than employers during its tenure. The board raised workers’ hopes and caused dramatic increases in union membership in several industries. It pushed for higher minimum wages and for shop committees to be elected under board supervision. The board replaced individual employee contracts with collective bargaining and granted workers the right to organize union. It also endorsed equal pay for women and an eight-hour work day.
During the World War II, President Franklin Roosevelt established the National War Labor Board in 1942 through an executive order. Its purpose was to preside over labor disputes arising during the war and prevent work stoppages in the middle of a war period. The board was also mandated to administer wage control in industries. It had both positive and negative impact for the US labor force. It created the ‘maintenance of membership’ clause which strengthened labor unions representing mass-production industries. It enforced collective bargaining and augmented fringe benefits such as sick leave, vacations etc. On the other hand, it sanctioned wage increase to curb inflation, thus alienating many workers. The board’s ruling on wage increase caused union defiance and work stoppages in several mass industries.