The Roles of Labor Unions


Laura Stock, Robin Baker, Valeria Velazuez


American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CLO), blue-green alliance, Change to Win, clean water act, collective bargaining, environmental health, labor, labor unions, living wage, occupational health, smart growth, unions, United States, workers rights


Oxford University Press

Year Published:


Policy Summary

This book chapter provides the reader with a synopsis on labor unions in the United States. Unions represent workers and advocate for safe and fair working conditions, while also trying to improve society overall. The total Union enrollment has remained stable over time, which means that there is currently a smaller percentage of workers unionized today than there were in the 1950s. The American Federation of Labor-Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CLO) and Change to Win are two major international unions that many local chapters are members to. According to the text, 53% of American workers want Union representation if they could get it (this amounts to 35 million unionized workers). Unions have offer their members the right to protection, the right to participate and act, and the right to know. The recent tension between the labor movement (blue collar) and the environmental movement (green collar) was discussed along with the “just transition” stragtegy of creating environmentally friendly (blue-green) jobs. Green encomy jobs have been developed in the “smart-growth” urban planning framework as well as in the clean energy sector.

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