The Stream

Does 2022 spell a US labour union revival?

On Wednesday, November 30 at 19:30 GMT:
2022 has been a major moment for labour unions in the United States, with workers organising at some of the world’s biggest companies.

Workers at US firms including Amazon, Starbucks and Apple have voted to form unions in recent months, in a push for better pay and conditions amid increasing economic inequality.

In the first six months of 2022, labour unions won 641 elections out of 837 held – a win rate of nearly 77 percent, according to a Bloomberg Law analysis of data from the National Labor Relations Board. More unions won elections in the US this year than in nearly 20 years.

Labour unions have strong backing among the wider US public. About 71 percent of US citizens say they approve of them, according to a recent survey by polling firm Gallup. It’s the highest approval rate since 1965, when unions were far more common across the country.

But while 2022 has been a bright year for organised labour, union lawyers say employers are using a range of tactics to block more new unions from being formed. Workers at an Amazon warehouse in New York’s Staten Island scored a major victory when they became the first in the company to unionise, but employees advocating for a union at a facility in Albany say they faced harassment by management. The union effort ultimately failed.

Some new unions have faced difficulties reaching a final contract with their employer – and in some cases have had little option but to strike. Unionised workers at more than 100 Starbucks stores walked out on November 17 over wages and schedules, while alleging that the company is not bargaining in good faith. Starbucks denies that it is being obstructive.

In this episode of The Stream, we’ll look at what is behind the rise in new unions in the US and look at the landscape for organised labour.

In this episode of The Stream, we are joined by:
Jordan Flowers, @JayyTCOEW
Co-Founder, Amazon Labor Union

Laila Dalton, @lailaddaltonn
Activist and union organiser

Dave Jamieson, @jamieson
Labour reporter, HuffPost