Collective bargaining is the process in which working people, through their unions, negotiate contracts with their employers to determine their terms of employment, including pay, benefits, hours, leave, job health and safety policies, ways to balance work and family and more. Collective bargaining is a way to solve workplace problems.
After the rights of public employees to collectively bargain for a middle-class life came under attack in 2010, working people in all kinds of jobs as well as students, community supporters, faith leaders and others united to defend this basic right.
The United States has long lagged behind other industrialized nations in collective bargaining coverage for public- and private-sector workers. Yet the right to collectively bargain is essential so that working men and women have the strength to improve their living standards, provide for their families and build a strong middle class.
Working people from all walks of life join together in unions to obtain a voice at work. Union members have a say about pay, benefits, working conditions and how their jobs get done.
If you do not have a union at your job, find out more about how to form one. Today, more people are taking the step to form unions on the job than at any time in recent history. You can be one of them!
How to Join or Form a Union
Faith groups and the union movement share a commitment to social and economic justice. Building lasting partnerships between the union movement and faith communities strengthens efforts to win our common goals. Use these resources to learn more about labor-religion partnerships and work together for workers’ rights.
Ten Things Your Congregation, Synagogue or Mosque Can Do to Help Workers
The U.S. Department of Labor offers these tips.
Interfaith Worker Justice
Interfaith Worker Justice works to educate, organize and mobilize the faith community on issues and campaigns that will improve the wages, benefits and working conditions for workers, especially low-wage workers.
Faith and Labor
International Labor Movement
Working people around the world are united by the dignity of work. They are also facing many of the same issues. They’re struggling with massive levels of unemployment and an unrelenting global push to lower wages and living standards.
By joining together in a global network, workers have built the strength to advance workers’ rights and improve their ability to organize and collectively bargain in the global economy. In partnering with working people around the world, the AFL-CIO addresses labor law reform, files international claims for failure to respect labor provisions of trade and preference agreements and negotiates stronger labor language in trade agreements.
Currently, we are working to improve the labor laws in Colombia, Panama, Vietnam, Malaysia, Georgia, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh. We recently filed a complaint against Guatemala under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA) and may file similar cases against Honduras, Costa Rica and Peru. We also are coordinating a global trade union coalition to urge the adoption of stronger labor language in new trade agreements, such as the Trans Pacific Free Trade Agreement.
Training programs and apprenticeships are at the heart of unions’ efforts to ensure that working men and women have a voice in our country's ever-changing economy. Every year, the labor movement trains more than 450,000 workers.
Through union apprenticeship programs, individuals gain life-changing skills to do high-quality work and get solid, middle-class jobs—often in new industries with cutting-edge green technology.
We also harness public workforce resources to help working people gain access to training opportunities and overcome the challenges of losing a job. And along with employers who are willing to work together to share the benefits as well as the costs, we spearhead partnerships that lead to improved job satisfaction for workers, high productivity for employers and a top-notch, skilled workforce that ensures the quality and innovation essential for competing in a global economy.
Training and Apprenticeships
Union members have access to a wide array of members-only benefits, including credit cards, scholarships, mortgages, legal services and more. Most of the products and services listed here are members-only. But if you’re not represented by a union, you can access some great services and products as well.