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US Unions Gaining Momentum

US Unions Gain Traction

NPR recently looked at the state of unions in the US. The labor union movement in America appeared to be gaining momentum last year, with notable unionization efforts at Starbucks, Amazon, Trader Joe's, and other companies. Media headlines declared a "union boom" and suggested that employees everywhere were organizing. However, recent data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that the share of American workers in unions continued to decline, reaching a record low of 10.1% in 2022.

Despite the increased number of unionized workers, the growth of non-union jobs outpaced it. The hurdles to unionization in the United States, including labor laws favoring employers and allowing tactics to impede organizing efforts, have made it challenging for workers to join unions. Furthermore, the shift in the economy away from traditionally unionized sectors and the higher turnover and smaller size of workplaces in the service sector have hindered unionization efforts.

In contrast, other industrialized nations with collective bargaining systems that cover entire sectors have higher union membership rates. These countries also provide additional benefits through unions, creating incentives for workers to join. The decline of unions in America may be attributed to various factors, including outdated labor laws, the erosion of social capital, and the lack of sector-level bargaining. To reverse this decline, stronger policy reforms and grassroots movements are needed to rewire workplace networks and transform labor laws, such as embracing sector-level bargaining and increasing incentives for union membership while reducing incentives for companies to oppose unions.

The ongoing fight for the Protecting The Right To Organize (PRO) Act in Congress is seen as a step in the right direction, but further changes are required to revitalize the labor union movement in the United States.

Full coverage from NPR