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Both organizations advocate policies and legislation favorable to workers in the United States and Canada, and take an active role in politics favoring the Democratic party but not exclusively so.
The AFL-CIO is especially concerned with global trade and economic issues.
During the late 1950s, the Landrum Griffin Act of 1959 passed in the wake of Congressional investigations of corruption and undemocratic internal politics in the Teamsters and other unions.
The percentage of workers belonging to a union (or "density") in the United States peaked in 1954 at almost 35% and the total number of union members peaked in 1979 at an estimated 21.0 million.
Labor unions in the United States are representatives of workers in many industries recognized under US labor law.
Their activity today centers on collective bargaining over wages, benefits, and working conditions for their membership, and on representing their members in disputes with management over violations of contract provisions.
Other forms of unionism include minority unionism, solidarity unionism, and the practices of organizations such as the Industrial Workers of the World, which do not always follow traditional organizational models.
Public sector worker unions are governed by labor laws and labor boards in each of the 50 states.
In general they have shown robust growth rates, because wages and working conditions are set through negotiations with elected local and state officials.Both advocate policies and legislation on behalf of workers in the United States and Canada, and take an active role in politics. The percentage of workers belonging to a union in the United States (or total labor union "density") was 10.7%, compared to 20.1% in 1983.