Business in America: Labor Since 1970, the size of the labor force has doubled. In those years, the number of workers belonging to a labor union has fallen. A labor union is an organization of workers that seek to improve the wages and working conditions of its members. In the early 1970s, about 1 of every four workers belonged to a union. Today one in eight is a union member. One reason for the shift in union membership is the shift from manufacturing jobs to service jobs. Traditionally fewer workers in service jobs have been union members. Workers in many important jobs and industries belong to unions. Large numbers of coal miners, airplane pilots, and truck drivers are union members. Unions have seen gains where teachers and gov`t. employees work. There are two types of Unions. A union where all members work at the same craft are called trade unions. Examples are unions formed by bakers and by printers. A union that brings together skilled and unskilled workers from the same industry is called an industrial union. An industrial union might have electricians, carpenters, and laborers who work together to manufacture a product. An example is the United Auto Workers (UAW). IN the past they were mostly formed by industrial workers. Today, even actors and professional athletes have unions. Another change is the growth in the number of government workers who are union members. About 1.6 million of these workers belong to the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees (AFSCME). Prison guards, garbage collectors, and school nurses are part of this union. The basic unit of each union is the local. A local consist of all members of a particular union who work in one factory, one company, or one geographical area. All of a union`s locals together form a national union. Many national unions belong to the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations, or AFL-CIO. This union is the largest in the country. 12 million members, the second largest is Change to win, with about 5.5 Members. Employees in the work place can not form a union unless a majority of them vote in favor of it. An agency of the federal government , the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), makes sure that these elections are carried out fairly and honesty. A common way unions organize a workplace is with a union shop. Nearly half the states have the right to work laws, which ban unions. Other states have what is called a modified union shop. In this circumstance, or situation, a worker does not have to join a union. When a company`s workers have a union, the union and the company carry out collective bargaining. In this process, officials from the union and the company meet to discuss the workers` contract. The contract sets the terms for working at the company. These talks often focus on wages and benefits. With most contracts, the two sides reach agreement during the bargaining. One method unions use to is to call a strike. In a strike, all union members refuse to work. Striking workers usually stand in public view carrying signs stating they are on strike. This tactic is called picketing. The goals are to embarrass the company and to build public support for the strike. Another tool is to boycott the company. This is meant to financially hurt the company. The employers strongest tool is the lock out. In a lockout, the employer hope that the loss of income will force workers to accept company terms. During the lockout, the company often hires replacement workers so it can continue to do business. Companies may try to stop union actions by asking for an injunction. An injunction is a legal order from a court to prevent some activity. The company may ask the court to limit picketing or to prevent or stop a strike. When the parties can not agree on a contract, they have other options, or choices. They can try mediation. In this approach, they bring in a third party who tries to help them reach an agreement. They can also choose arbitration. With this method, the third party listens to both sides and the decides how to settle the dispute. Both parties agree in advance to accept the third party`s decision. If a strike threatens the nations welfare, the government can step in. Federal law allows the president to order a cooling off period. The cooling off period lasts for 80 days. If there is no agreement after that time, the workers have the right to go back on strike. Ina n extreme situation, the government can take over a company or an industry temporarily.