Organization of employed workers formed to undertake collective bargaining with employers and to try to achieve improved working conditions for its members. Attitudes of government to unions and of unions to management vary greatly from country to country. Probably the most effective labor-union system is that of Sweden, and the most internationally known is the Polish Solidarity.
History labor unions of a kind existed in the Middle Ages as artisans’ guilds, and combinations of wage earners were formed at the time of industrialization in the 18th century; but labor unions did not formally (or legally) come into existence in Britain until the Industrial Revolution in the 19th century. The early history of labor unions is one of illegality and of legislation to prevent their existence. history, us the great growth of us labor unionism, apart from the abortive Knights of Labor 1869–86 (see also American Federation of Labor), came in the post-Depression years. Employers and the us government have historically been more opposed to labor unionism than those in Britain, often using police and armed guards to harass pickets and protect strike breakers, which has led to episodes of violence and bitter confrontation. us legislation includes the Taft–Hartley Act 1947, which among other measures outlaws the closed shop. us unions have the reputation of being open to the acceptance of new techniques, taking a broad view of these as conducive to greater eventual prosperity. In Sweden, for example, conflicts of unions within an industry (demarcation disputes) are largely eliminated, and unions and employers cooperate freely.