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Organized Labor

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Organized labor is the labor union movement. The origins of organized labor in the U.S. can be traced to guilds of skilled workers in Revolutionary times. Organized labor made huge strides with the founding of the American Federation of Labor (AFL) in 1886, and its subsequent merger with the Congress of Industrial Organizations (CIO) in 1955. These moves to bring labor unions together eventually gave organized labor substantial political influence. Since the 1960s, however, organized labor has suffered significant setbacks. The decline in organized labor stems from the changing economy: heavy manufacturing industries, like steel and shipbuilding, which gave organized labor so many dues-paying members substantially contracted. Other reasons for the decline of organized labor include technological advance, strong opposition from managements, and globalization. By the early 21st century, organized labor represented less than 10% of private-sector workers. Organized labor suffered a further setback in 2005, when two of America's most powerful unions - SEIU and the Teamsters -- resigned from the AFL-CIO. However, organized labor remained strong in the public sector, representing about 35% of all workers.

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