Labor Union

What is a ‘Labor Union’

A labor union is an organization intended to represent the collective interests of workers in negotiations with employers over wages, hours, benefits and working conditions. Labor unions are often industry-specific and tend to be more common in manufacturing, mining, construction, transportation and the public sector. However, while beneficial to its members, labor union representation in the United States has declined significantly in the private sector over time.

Explaining ‘Labor Union’

Labor unions protect the rights of workers in specific industries. A union works like a democracy in that it holds elections for its members that seek to appoint officers who are charged with the duty of making decisions for union participants. A union is structured as a locally-based group of employees who obtain a charter from a national organization. Dues are paid by the employees to the national union, and in return, the labor union acts as an advocate on the employees behalf.

An Example of a Labor Union

Almost all unions are structured the same way and carry out duties in the same manner. The National Education Association of the United States (NEA), for example, is a labor union of professionals that represents teachers and other education professionals in the workplace. NEA is the largest labor union in the United States and boasts a group of nearly 3 million members. The union’s aim is to advocate for education professionals and to unite its members to fulfill the promise of public education.

Further Reading

  • Corporate governance objectives of labor union shareholders: Evidence from proxy voting – [PDF]
  • Trade-offs in the labor union-CEO compensation relationship – [PDF]
  • Labor Union Resistance to Economic Liberalization in India: What Can National and State Level Patterns of Protests against Privatization Tell Us?? – [PDF]
  • Organized labor and information asymmetry in the financial markets – [PDF]
  • The “Institutional Weaknesses” of Labor Unions and Their Formative Contexts [J] – [PDF]
  • Financial reporting quality and labor investment efficiency – [PDF]
  • Does Labor Union Improve Labor Share? Theoretical Analysis and Evidence from Private Firms in China [J] – [PDF]
  • Labor unions and tax aggressiveness – [PDF]
  • From labor to finance: Understanding the failure of socialist economic policies in Spain – [PDF]