Brief: Labor unions in the United States are legally recognized as representatives of workers in many industries. The most prominent unions are among public sector employees such as teachers and police.
Activity by labor unions in the United States today centers on collective bargaining over wages, benefits, and working conditions for their membership and on representing their members if management attempts to violate contract provisions.
Although much smaller compared to their peak membership in the 1950s, American unions also remain an important political factor, both through mobilization of their own memberships and through coalitions with like-minded activist organizations around issues such as immigrant rights, trade policy, health care, and living wage campaigns.
In 2010, the percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union "density") was 11.4%, compared to 18.6% in Germany, 27.5% in Canada, and 70% in Finland.
Union membership in the private sector has in recent years fallen under 9% — levels not seen since 1932.
Unions and many observers allege that employer-incited opposition (and strong GOP backing) has contributed to this decline in membership.
Unions are important for all Americans.