What is a union?

A union is a group of workers who form an organization to win:

  • Respect on the job;
  • Better wages and benefits;
  • More flexibility for work and family needs;
  • A counter-balance to the unchecked power of employers; and
  • A voice in improving the quality of their products and services.

How do people form a union?

When workers decide they want to come together to improve their jobs, they contact a union to help guide their organizing efforts to join a union. Once a majority of workers show they want a union, sometimes employers honor the workers' choice. Often the workers must ask the government to hold an election. If the workers win their union, they negotiate a contract with the employer that spells out each party's rights and responsibilities in the workplace.

Does the law protect workers joining unions?

Yes. Under the law, which supports freedom of association, employers are not allowed to discriminate against or fire workers for choosing to join a union. For example, it's illegal for employers to threaten to shut down their businesses or to lay off employees or take away benefits if workers form a union.

What kinds of workers are forming unions today?

A wider range of people than ever before, including many women and immigrants, are building unions-- doctors and nurses, poultry workers and graduate employees, home health care aides and wireless communications workers, auto parts workers and engineers, to name a few.

How do unions help working families today?

Through unions workers win better wages, benefits, and a voice on the job-- and good union jobs mean stronger communities.

Union workers earn 28% more than non-union workers and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits than those without a union.

In 2000, union members' median weekly earnings for full-time wages and salaries was $696.00, compared with $542.00 for their non-union counterparts.

Unions lead the fight today for better lives for working people, such as through expanded family and medical leave, improved safety and health protections, and fair trade agreements that lift the standard of living for workers all over the world.

What have unions accomplished for all workers?

Unions have made life better for all working Americans by helping to pass laws ending child labor, establishing the eight hour day, protecting workers' safety and health and helping create Social Security, unemployment insurance and the minimum wage.

What challenges face workers today?

Today thousands of workers want to join unions. The wisest employers understand that when workers form unions, their companies also benefit. Many other employers fight workers' efforts to come together by intimidating, harassing, and threatening them. In response workers are reaching out to their communities to help them exercise their freedom to improve their lives.

What about workers in other countries?

Unions fight to ensure that corporations and governments around the world respect all workers' fundamental rights to:

  • Come together and negotiate with employers;
  • Refuse forced labor;
  • Reject child labor; and
  • Work free from discrimination.

Education and Career Training

Recognizing that an educated workforce is the key to a solid and viable labor movement, the Louisiana AFL-CIO commits considerable resources to Education and Training. The Apprenticeship program provides classroom related and on-the-job training to prepare workers with a life-long skill.

Louisiana State Building and Construction Trades Apprenticeship Training Programs are offered in the following trades:


  • 225-927-3710 (Baton Rouge)
  • 985-847-9660 (Slidell)


  • 1-888-433-1720

Carpenters and Piledrivers

  • 225-927-6176 (Baton Rouge)
  • 504-954-3127 (New Orleans)
  • 337-234-1798 (Lafayette)
  • 337-433-7144 (Lake Charles)


  • 318-443-5811 (Alexandria)
  • 985-735-1299 (Bogalusa)
  • 225-752-4861 (Baton Rouge)
  • 337-433-7277 (Lake Charles)
  • 318-387-4411 (Monroe)
  • 504-835-9899 (New Orleans)
  • 318-746-6180 (Bossier City)

Elevator Constructors

  • 504-889-1103 (New Orleans)
  • 501-372-3601 (Shreveport)

Glass Workers

  • 504-466-4114 (Kenner, Lake Charles, and Shreveport)

Heat and Frost Insulators, Asbestos Workers

  • 504-468-9598 (New Orleans)
  • 337-436-5874 (Lake Charles)
  • 972-243-5661 (Shreveport and Monroe)

Iron Workers

  • 225-357-3262 (Baton Rouge)
  • 504-245-8032 (New Orleans)
  • 318-388-0286 (Monroe)
  • 318-631-1461 (Shreveport)

Construction and Craft Laborers

  • 337-235-4370 (Lafayette)
  • 504-891-4435 (New Orleans)
  • 337-439-2702 (Lake Charles)
  • 225-383-2464 (Baton Rouge)
  • 225-924-6601 (Baton Rouge)
  • 225-637-2311 (Livonia)


  • 225-926-6176 (Baton Rouge)
  • 337-234-1798 (Lafayette)
  • 337-433-7144 (Lake Charles)
  • 504-945-3127 (New Orleans)

Operating Engineers

  • 225-924-1311 (Baton Rouge)
  • 985-542-4322 (New Orleans)
  • 337-436-7878 (Lake Charles)
  • 318-635-8139 (Shreveport)


  • 504-466-4114 (Baton Rouge, Kenner, Lake Charles, Shreveport)

Plasterers and Cement Masons

  • 225-383-7584 (Baton Rouge)
  • 504-523-3847 (New Orleans)

Plumbers, Steamfitters, and HVAC

  • 225-355-9938 (Baton Rouge)
  • 504-885-8033 (Metairie)
  • 337-436-2444 (Lake Charles)
  • 318-683-1664 (Shreveport)
  • 318-322-4520 (Monroe)
  • 318-442-9923 (Alexandria)

Road Sprinkler Fitters

  • 985-809-9788 (Abita Springs)

Roofers and Waterproofers

  • 225-355-8502 (Baton Rouge)

Sheet Metal Workers

  • 225-201-9695 (Baton Rouge)
  • 504-885-4283 (Metairie)
  • 318-635-4914 (Shreveport)

Building Trades Apprenticeship Programs - New Orleans Area
Baton Rouge Community College
Louisiana Technical College
Louisiana Community Technical College System
Delgado Community College
Louisiana State University
Southern University
University of New Orleans