Recent studies of democratization emphasize elite strategic choice but do not easily accommodate collective actors and mass protest. Focusing on unions and labor-affiliated parties, we argue that the labor movement often played a central role. In some cases union-led protest was an important factor in provoking authoritarian extrication. It was also often crucial in moving the transition forward. Finally, labor-based organizations often won a place in the negotiations and expanded the scope of contestation in the new democratic regime.