The largest obstacles to better working conditions in Puerto Rico are overcrowding, its high unemployment rate of 12.5 percent (1999 est.), and its high drop-out rate. Since Operation Bootstrap in the 1950s, the government has consistently worked to reduce unemployment. Working conditions in Puerto Rico are better than most in Latin America, largely due to its U.S. commonwealth status. U.S. labor laws, including those regulating minimum wages and workplace safety, apply to Puerto Rico and protect workers from abuse. Four major labor unions, with 115,000 members, protect workers' interests. The largest of them is the General Confederation of Puerto Rican Workers, with 35,000 members.