1. Brief Description of Employees and Employers Organizations
Trade unions constitute the largest and most influential employee organizations in the United States. A majority of trade unions are organized under two umbrella organizations: the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (“AFL-CIO”) and the Change-to-Win Federation.
The largest employer organization in the United States is the United States Chamber of Commerce, a organization dedicated to representing employer interests by engaging in lobbying campaigns. In certain heavily unionized sectors (e.g., healthcare), employers can and do create multi-employer bargaining organizations to collectively negotiate the terms of collective bargaining agreements with employee-elected unions.
2. Rights and Importance of Trade Unions
Due to the United States Constitution’s guarantee of a freedom of association, employees are free to form and join trade unions. Approximately 14.6 million workers, or 11.1% of the workforce, are members of a trade union. Public-sector employees are unionized at a much higher rate than private-sector employees. Only about 6.6% of private industry employees are unionized. Private-sectors industries with the highest rates of unionization are utilities (22.3 percent), transportation and warehousing (19.6 percent), telecommunications (14.8 percent) and construction (13.9 percent). (Among occupational groups, education, training, and library occupations and protective service occupations (35.3% each) had the highest unionization rates in 2014. While only a small portion of the U.S. workforce is unionized, trade unions wield significant lobbying power.