The organized labor movement takes its roots in the distant past – in the aftermath of the revolutionary War for Independence and prior to the Civil War. Then were formed first local craft unions of skilled workers, representing the strategically important sectors (trade unions of printers, etc.). Periodically during booms or during troubled times in the industry they united in the urban and national federations, pursuing political goals, or argued with requirements of reforms. However, only at the end of the XIX century, when the American Federation of Labor was founded, the American labor movement has taken the form that it has nowadays.
During centuries trade unions constantly faced with opposition from employers and officials in the U.S. But the unions managed to win and united many people in the country, they fought for equality and against discrimination at work, 8-hours working day, for raising of salaries of workers, etc. That is, unions are an integral and critically important element of industrial relations in the U.S. The task of trade unions is to maintain balance and regulate relations between employees and employers.
Of course, in the late 20th century and early 21 century, their importance and value has decreased, but nevertheless most of workers in the U.S. believe that unions are important and help to regulate labor relations in the country. While in the United States the number of workers in the trade union movement now stands about only 16% (in the public sector trade unions reached 37% of firms, in the private sector about 9%), however, the influence of unions on labor policies is quite noticeable. (Bureau of Labor Statistics)
The main reason for the interest of employees in membership in trade unions is dissatisfaction with wages. In addition to the desire to establish trade unions in companies affected by the low level of social benefits and total disregard of employers for the interests of employees in the management of the organization. At the same time, employers do not encourage their organizations to form trade unions, on the one hand they implement flexible working relations with staff and create favorable social and labor climate, on the other hand by demonstrating a firm position in relation to union demands. In those organizations where trade unions exist, they actively influence the general level of wages and benefits, the structure of payments and indirectly affect the policy of remuneration related and competing organizations. (Yates 2009)
The effectiveness of the influence of trade unions on the general level of wages and benefits can be assessed according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics for 2002. So, in 2002 the average weekly wage of union members was 740 dollars compared to 587 dollars for workers who were not union members, a difference was up to 26%. In this case, the difference was more significant in sectors with traditionally strong influence of trade unions (for example, in construction the difference is 31.6%) than in industries with less power of trade unions (for example, in the service sector, this difference is only 13,3% ). (Bureau of Labor Statistics)