Senator Bernie Sanders, independent of Vermont, speaks next to Amazon Trade Union (ALU) founder Chris Chance Malls at an ALU rally in Staten Island, New York City, USA, on Sunday, April 24, 2022. ..
Victor J. Blue | Bloomberg | Getty Images
Unions are reviving after years of diminished influence. Employees of companies across the country are increasingly organized as a means of seeking more profit, wages and safety from their employers.
According to a recent report, between October 2021 and March this year, union representative petitions filed with NLRB increased by 57% from the same period last year. data From the US National Labor Relations Commission. The cost of unfair labor practice increased by 14% over the same period.
250 or more Starbucks Where the petition was submitted, And after recording the first victory At the end of last year, 54 Starbucks retail stores were officially organized.Workers Amazon Recently a warehouse in New York City Voted Formed the first union with the second largest private employer in the United States and joined the Amazon Trade Union. Google Successful textile contractor in Kansas City Voted In March, he became the first worker to negotiate under the Alphabet Workers Union a year ago to consolidate their small offices.
These efforts are resonating with more people.Gallup vote According to results conducted last September, 68 percent of Americans approve trade unions. This is the highest rate since 71% in 1965.
So why is the union so popular again?
According to experts, the biggest factor was the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic was an awakening call or catalyst that prompted two perspectives.” Is there another way to work and live? “The employer-worker relationship,” he said. Mark Pierce, a former NLRB chairman and current professor of law in Georgetown, said. “Vulnerable workers-they were not only scared, but angry.”
“Covid was everything,” agreed Jason Greer, a labor consultant and former field examiner at NLRB. “Many people said,’Family died, friends died, and suddenly we faced our own death, but many organizations expected you to work just as hard.”
Employees have seen a surge in demand for services that allow people to do more at home, such as e-commerce and grocery delivery, as governments and employers impose new restrictions to slow the pandemic epidemic. Faced new challenges. Retail workers had to force them to wear masks and check vaccination status. Delivery and warehouse employees were worried that the proper safety equipment was not properly equipped.
“The first few months of the pandemic have been flooded with activists,” said Jess Kutch, co-founder and co-managing director of Coworker.org, which helps organize workers. During the three months, this group confirmed more website usage than all years so far combined. “It was a clear indication that far more people wanted to speak than before.”
Many of these workers communicated about their struggles via digital channels. This has become a natural trend for all communication during the Covid blockade. “When tracking pushes from within Apple and from within Google, I think a lot of this involves adopting digital channels like Slack,” Greer said. “It was this perfect storm that made it possible to access each other using tools in such an environment.”
At the same time, the great turmoil in buying patterns has brought record benefits to companies like Amazon and Google equipped to meet the needs of society suddenly forced to stay home. As a result, the distance between leadership and ranks and files has increased, experts added that executive salaries have increased, often with employee wages unchanged.
One example of a virus-infected insensitive executive is Vishal Garg, CEO of Better.com. Dismissal The Zoom video conversation in early December was attended by 900 employees (about 9% of the company’s staff).
Organizers also take advantage of the supportive political environment that has been seen for decades.
President Joe Biden I swore “The most parental union president to date,” he has been very vocal about his support for the PRO Act, which aims to make the union process easier and less bureaucratic.
Early in his term, Biden renewed the National Labor Relations Commission and immediately fired former President Donald Trump’s NLRB legal adviser Peter Rob. Later, Biden set up a new legal adviser, Jennifer Abruzzo, a former union lawyer who uses her enforcement power fairly widely.
“It’s important that Biden’s first action was to do that, because he sent workers a message that NLRB’s weaknesses shouldn’t be dismantled from within.” Said Pierce.
Biden aims for a detained audience meeting, a common practice that companies use to reject union efforts. NLRB settlement In December, along with Amazon, we sent a message to other companies and union organizers as well, stating that NLRB would be willing to enforce the breach.
The president met with 39 national worker leaders on Thursday, including Christian Smalls, who heads the Amazon trade union, and Laura Garza, the union leader of Starbucks’ New York City Roastery.
Experts say that media attention to organizing employees, whether successful or not, contributes to the domino effect. They don’t even have to succeed, Kutch said.
For example, an employee of an Apple retail store in Georgia Told CNBC Last month, they were partly inspired by Amazon employees trying to consolidate their warehouses in Bessemer, Alabama. Derrick Bowles, a member of the Apple Retail Union Organizing Committee, “Respect” Because of what Bessemer employees did — even if the union is promoting it not yet Succeeded.
In Seattle, Starbucks organizer Sarah Papin, 31, said she was in contact with a Verizon retail workers’ union.
“We are all roaming between the same silly retail jobs,” Papin said. “This is the moment when we all realize that it’s really a nuisance everywhere. Now let’s stand in one place and prove it.”
In early May, Starbucks Raise wages For incumbent workers, we will add dual training for new employees and tipping capabilities to credit and debit card transactions. However, it said it would not provide enhanced profits to workers in more than 50 company-owned cafes who voted for the union.
“We see social justice combined with worker justice, and not only does it ignite, it’s getting results,” Pierce said.
Richard Bensinger, union organizer of Starbucks Workers United and former director of the AFL-CIO organization I believe Most parent union workers are in their early twenties, encouraging him to be part of the union’s “GenU.” According to 2021 Gallup data, 77% of young adults between the ages of 18 and 34 approve the union.
According to experts, these young workers see each other’s victory as their inspiration.
Kutch and Pearce gave an example of Google Walkout. “It was an important moment not only in the technology sector, but also in the history of the labor movement,” she said.
Thousands of people in November 2018 Google Employees of more than 20 offices around the world Step-by-step walkout To protest Explosive New York Times Report It details how Google protected executives accused of sexual misconduct by keeping them staffed or allowing friendly departures. Organizers described it as “a workplace culture that is not useful to everyone” and made some requests.Some of them California lawOthers were built into settlement With shareholders who sued the company for handling the case.
Employees of a large company have shown that they can organize using in-house chat, spreadsheets, and email. Within a few days, Kutch added that many people saw the images through social media.
“Screaming in the park about injustice or raising a banner in front of the facility is much more effective on the Internet,” Pierce said.
CNBC’s Annie Palmer also contributed to this report.