7 Types of Unions and How They Work

Unions have been an integral part of the labor movement since the 19th century, when workers began to recognize the need for collective bargaining and the protection of worker’s rights. Unionization has been a key factor in helping the labor force achieve better wages, improved working conditions and more job security. In today’s globalized world, unions remain an important part of the labor force and come in a variety of forms. From craft unions to industrial unions, and even public sector unions, each type of union has its own unique set of characteristics and objectives. In this blog post, we will explore the different types of unions and examine their various roles in the labor force. We will look at the advantages and disadvantages of each type of union, as well as how they affect the lives of workers in the workplace. With all of these factors in mind, it’s essential to understand the different types of unions and their different functions, in order to effectively advocate for the rights

Types of Unions

Leadership roles in a union

The following is a list of typical union leadership positions:

What are unions?

Unions are groups committed to defending workers’ rights in the workplace. This type of group is frequently founded on an industry, job type, specialized knowledge, or unique interests. Unions work to improve members’ pay, benefits, and working conditions by leveraging their size, industry expertise, and social clout.

Collective bargaining is the method that unions most frequently employ to improve overall working conditions. An agreement is reached through negotiations between a number of employers and their employees. Members of the union provide information about the working environment and other employee concerns, and union leaders then negotiate on their behalf.

The history of American unions

In the United States, unions have existed for more than 200 years. In early American history, organizing workers was a contentious practice. Protections for union activists were frequently inadequate, and government agencies and employers frequently opposed unions. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 made unionization possible for everyone. In many industries, this procedure became standard practice after President John F. In 1962, Kennedy issued an executive order granting the right to collective bargaining to unions.

Careers and industries with unions

In order to safeguard the interests of their members, unions are frequently present in the following industries:

Seven types of unions

Seven distinct union types that have been common in the US over the past 200 years are listed below:

Craft union

An organized group of workers who work in the same craft or trade is known as a craft union. These unions frequently have members who work in the same field or industry. Sometimes members of a craft union come together because they share a particular talent or skill.

Before the Industrial Revolution, craft unions started to gain popularity in the United States. This model served to safeguard those whose line of work involved performing duties related to trades. These unions’ efforts created a foundation for their members to receive fair wages and benefits and prevented permanent unemployment. In order to achieve this, unions established apprentice programs and restricted access to the job market to union members only.

Seven craft unions that are still active today are listed below:

Industrial union

Organizations called industrial unions are made up of people who all work in the same sector or line of business. These unions typically cover all employees in a single industry and are associated with one sector of the economy. Industrial unions frequently engage in sectional bargaining, which is a type of contract negotiation that covers several employers within an industry.

The vast membership within industrial unions strengthens their bargaining power. They are renowned for transforming entire industries and enhancing workplace health and safety conditions.

Nine currently active industrial unions are listed below:

Public service union

A public service union is a group of people who are organized and work in the public sector. Typically, these unions represent workers in a particular sector of the public sector who hold the same or a similar job type. Membership in these groups is often voluntary but highly encouraged. They frequently represent positions in small sectors, regions, or organizations, so the collective bargaining agreements reached do not affect conditions across the board for the entire industry.

Here are six public service unions that are active today:


An organized group of one or more unions is known as a federation. They can provide additional protections and benefits to their members while also offering a variety of services and supports to unions within the federation or association.

Three current American federations are listed below:

Uplift union

Friendly unions, also referred to as uplift unions, were associations that used collective bargaining to promote their members’ psychological and social well-being. Popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s, uplift unions sought to enhance working conditions in relation to lifestyle quality, intellectualism, and morality. The Knights of Labor and the Order of the Eastern Star are two instances of organizations or unions like these that were influential in the late 1800s and early 1900s.

Identity-exclusive union

An organized group of people who share a common social, cultural, or religious identity is known as an identity-exclusive union. These organizations work to provide fair wages, compensation, and protections for their members, much like labor unions do. Sometimes, the small membership of identity-exclusive unions reduces their power in negotiations. This has resulted in an increase in identity-exclusive organizations that frequently collaborate with labor unions to enhance workplace equity.

Enterprise union

A collective bargaining group that works only for one particular business or company is known as an enterprise union. These unions are most prevalent in nations like Japan and China, and they concentrate on improving employee-employer relations and giving employees stable jobs. The National Labor Relations Act of 1935 outlawed the use of enterprise unions in the United States because of their employer-centered nature.


What are the 4 types of unions?

four kinds of unions
  • A classic craft union. Members share a similar expertise or training.
  • A public employee union. …
  • A political lobby. …
  • An industrial union.

How many types of unions are there?

Local unions, national unions, and federations are the three levels of the labor movement that are easiest to distinguish from one another.

What are the 2 types of union?

There are two types of unions: horizontal unions, where all members possess a similar skill, and vertical unions, which are made up of employees from a single industry.

What are the different types of workers unions?

Seven types of unions
  • United Brotherhood of Carpenters and Joiners of America.
  • International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.
  • Laborers’ International Union of North America.
  • American Nurses Association.
  • National Football League Players Association.
  • International Union of Painters and Allied Trades.

Related Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *