Unions have long been viewed as a way for workers to gain job protections, boost wages and benefits and live a middle-class life. But organized labor has been in a tailspin for decades, losing millions of members and the influence it once wielded in the workplace.
About 14.8 million Americans are members of labor unions. That's just 11.8 percent of the workforce — down from about a third of all workers in the 1950s.
The numbers have dropped as domestic manufacturing jobs go overseas and businesses take a tougher approach against union organizers.
Union leaders want Washington's help in making it easier to organize members and promote the use of union labor. They've had some success under Obama. But Romney says as president, he would reverse all of Obama's union-friendly executive orders. And he'd seek national right-to-work legislation prohibiting unions from collecting dues from nonmembers.
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