Labor organizations are the same thing as labor/trade unions. The phrase 'labor union' has become highly politicized over the years, and has some positive or negative connotations, depending upon who you talk to. To avoid some of the controversy surrounding the collective bargaining process, it's usually best to refer to unions as labor organizations. Local labor organizations are legally recognized representatives of employees in all different types of industries. Most people associate the phrase with blue collar factory workers, but there are white collar labor organizations, too. These groups engage with employers over work related issues such as working conditions, benefits, wages, and contracts. Unions are not nearly as strong in the United States as they once were, but they still play a vital role in protecting members from employer abuses. They also ensure that businesses comply with existing fair labor standards. Today, local labor organizations often participate in the political process by mobilizing their members to support and vote for causes and/or candidates. They sometimes coordinate their efforts with other activist organizations including immigrant's rights groups, trade policy watchers, health care advocates, and civil rights proponents.