From the Teamsters to the United Auto Workers to the National Education Association, labor unions figure prominently in national and Michigan politics and have a dramatic effect on everything from the price of a new car to the education of children. But how did this come to be so?

The purpose of this section is to describe the history of the modern organized labor movement, the laws that have shaped and are shaping it, and government's role in establishing the prominence of "Big Labor" in American economic and political life.