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Labor: Introduction


In 1935, the right of most American workers to organize into labor unions was codified into law by the National Labor Relations Act. Since the advent of labor unions, many American workers have had a voice in the terms of their own employment. Unionization has brought real benefits to hard-working Americans in addition to the dignity that comes with workers negotiating as equals with their employers.

With a solid union behind them, workers can stand up for themselves on the job and have more sophisticated labor-management relations than non-union workers. The AFL-CIO, America's largest labor union, notes that union workers enjoy a higher standard of living-a thirty percent difference between union and non-union earnings on average. For women, African Americans, and immigrants, average earnings are even higher above non-union levels. Latinos affiliated with unions earn a staggering 52% more than Latinos not associated with unions. Union workers are more likely to have health insurance, a decent pension and other benefits.

Relationships between employers and unions are always strained and the views of both parties are valid at the negotiation table. Yet some companies have placed unfair roadblocks in the way of unionizing workers, denying them their lawful right to organize. Other companies impede the formation of unions with a barrage of litigation, delaying justice. Finally, some workers in America are still denied the right to organize.