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Unions could be on the comeback trail

On Behalf of | Dec 20, 2021 | Union Representation |

Starbucks has broken ground since its inception. Today, there are more than 15,000 nationwide, with more added every day. New York State currently numbers in the 600s, with the possibility of 700 of the famed coffee shops becoming a reality.

The Buffalo location has set a new standard in their own way, becoming the first company-owned Starbucks in the nation to unionize.

The start of a trend?

The benefits are numerous, starting with negotiating a contract for better working conditions, not to mention wages and benefits. The impact of this change is not just limited to one of Starbucks ’ high-profile coffee shops. It could very well become a trend, inspiring other employees to take similar actions.

The fight may be on, but the actual number of union organizing efforts is unknown due to existing datasets. Experts count nearly 250 strikes in 2021 through November, while the Bureau of Labor Statistics found 13, but their minimum in tracking is more than 1,000 workers.

Union membership has declined over several decades, as have union petitions filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). However, 2020 offered a glimmer of hope as strikes increased to 11 percent, a promising number considering significant strikes have been on the decline for several decades.

Data from Gallup does show an increased appetite with 68 percent of Americans in support of unions, a number that has not been seen since 1965. Many cite the pandemic where workers began to question the methods of their employers in keeping them safe, resulting in a second look at the employee-employer relationship.

A tight labor market benefits employers as they try to fill long-empty positions. September of this year saw 4.4 million Americans leaving their jobs, an unprecedented number. Employers in the leisure and hospitality industries responded by increasing wages, focusing on their lower-wage workers, while proactively improving working conditions.