With the Democrats in power now, there has been talk that the Democrats might pass some laws to help out labor unions. Such as making it easier for workers to unionize. It's hard to say if Democrats are motivated by a genuine desire to help the country or are just looking to give something back to their union contributors without concern as to whether new laws would benefit the nation as a whole.
First of all, let's establish that unions do indeed benefit their members. Union salaries are nearly always higher than non-union salaries for similar jobs. The higher salary more than makes up for any union dues the workers have to pay. It shouldn't surprise anyone that union workers make more money, because unions equalize the bargaining power between employer and employee. In the normal non-unionized workplace, the employer can fire any employee, causing great pain to the individual employee with hardly any consequence to the employer. But when unionized, the workers can shut down the business, making employers feel the same economic pain that's usually reserved only for the workers. I wrote about this before in my blog post on the unequal bargaining power between employer and employee.
Some criticize unions as an interference with the free market, but they forget that big corporations themselves wouldn't exist were it not for government laws granting special recognition to the corporate structure. It's not clear why all sides having equal bargaining power is a worse market than one in which bargaining power is lopsided.
On the other hand, perhaps unions can grant workers so much bargaining power that the relationship actually becomes lopsided in favor of the workers who can extract money from the employer that they're not really entitled to. This could discourage investment, because people with capital may think "why should I invest money in some idea if the workers are going to unionize and steal all the profits if it ever becomes successful?" Perhaps the danger of discouraging investment cautions us to err on the side of more bargaining power for the employer.
As a way to help average Americans, the current union laws fall far short because they only help the 12.5% of workers lucky enough to be in a union. In fact, part of the animosity against unions is probably jealousy on the part of the non-unionized workers who envy how much the union workers get paid.
If unions are so great, why not mandate that all corporations deal with their workers through an employee union? I don't think it's necessary to change to laws to make forming a union any easier. Unions are already incredibly easy to form. All you have to do is get half the workers to fill out a union "card" (a term which probably goes back to the days of movable lead type--I once checked with the NLRB and confirmed that the "card" can be a regular 8.5 x 11" sheet of paper), and then the NLRB will hold an election, certify the results, and you have a union. What's strange is why so few workers take advantage of this easy way to equalize their bargaining power. Even when you get a majority of the workers to sign these cards, half the time they vote against the union in the election (which is why unions want to do away with the election requirement and allow unionization based only on signed cards).
The workers are obviously too stupid, or too afraid of change, to sign a card and vote in their interests. This is no doubt due to the meritocrization of society which has occurred since the union laws were originally created in the 1930s. Back then, there were enough smart motivated people stuck in crappy low wage jobs to make union organizing possible. Today, the low wage jobs are comprised of people who are dumb and unmotivated, or people who imagine (true or not) that they will soon move up in the world and don't care about or identify with the lifers.
Some of the low wage workers are also illegal immigrants who don't want to have their identity scrutinzed by government representatives. One way to strengthen unions would be for the Democrats to do something about deporting the millions of non-citizens working illegally.
It's also a mystery why white collar workers don't unionize. Maybe this is because unions are associated with low status jobs, so white collar workers are too afraid of lowering their status to vote in favor of higher wages for themselves. This is also related to the salary taboo because white collar workers don't even know if they are overpaid or underpaid, and perhaps they are afraid to find out by discussing salaries with their coworkers. If Democrats want to help unions and average workers, they would do something about ending the salary taboo.