Now, let's look at why unions exist, how they are structured, and how the collective bargaining process works.
Unions have a pyramidal structure much like that of large corporations. At the bottom are locals that serve workers in a particular geographical area. Certain members are designated as shop stewards to serve as go-betweens in disputes between workers and supervisors. Locals are usually organized into national unions
that assist with local contract negotiations, organize new locals,
negotiate contracts for entire industries, and lobby government bodies
on issues of importance to organized labor. In turn, national unions may
be linked by a labor federation, such as the
American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations
(AFL-CIO), which provides assistance to member unions and serves as the
principal political organ for organized labor.