Why are more workers unionizing and workers going on strike?

Concerns about high inflation and economic contraction are hammering markets but are proving to be a catalyst for growth in one area: interest in striking and unionization.

The number of strikes between January and May 2022 is more than double compared to the previous year, according to the U.S. Cornell-ILR Labor Action TrackerIn a database that tracks labor protest activity across the US, during that time frame, there were 153 strikes involving 73,500 workers nationwide, compared to 78 strikes involving 22,500 workers during the same month in 2021 was. According to Johnny Callas, a former labor organizer and director of the ILR Labor Action Tracker.

The increase in strike activity appears to be moving in lockstep, as well as a sudden push in unionization among American workers. Recently, workers have voted to unionize at Amazon warehouses, Starbucks cafes and Apple stores. Some Google employees unionized last year. And even Microsoft has softened opposition to employee unionization efforts.

It’s hard to pinpoint a specific reason for the recent groundswell in organized labor activity, but it’s safe to say that the issue of poor worker treatment, prolonged (until very recently) wage stagnation during the pandemic, and high inflation—caused What’s happening was worth the potential risk.

The data illustrate the potential benefits: The average union worker makes significantly more money than a non-worker. This can let workers have more say in things like shift scheduling, safety protocols, store policies, and more.

a 2021 analysis Government data from Reuters found that at the end of 2019, the average unionized retail worker earned about $730 per week, compared with $670 for their nonparticipants. another report good, from the Economic Policy Institute, found that unionized workers earn an average of 11.2% more than non-union workers in the same industry. This is, in part, one reason why the Biden administration has sought to increase union membership, even stating that “it is our administration’s belief that unions benefit all of us.” ” recent report good.

Not all strikes will necessarily lead to unionisation, but the two are linked—and the recent surge in unionization efforts is the opposite of current trends. While 20% of American workers were in a union in 1983, in 2021 almost half – 10.3% – were union members, according to information From the Bureau of Labor Statistics, that amounted to about 4.2 million workers.

So, while workers are striking and unionizing in greater numbers than they were a year ago, and potentially earning themselves higher wages, consumers may wonder what, if any, strikes will take. And what effect unionization can have on the prices of goods and services, especially during a time of high inflation.

It’s hard to say for sure, but the price hike could very well be at Union stores. BLS data shows that employer costs for a union worker in private industries are more than $50 per hour (including wages, benefits, and more), while they are less than $40 for non-workers. With this in mind, the additional cost to employers is certainly going to be less for consumers in the form of price increases.

Still, high prices may not turn off consumers completely, as many are sympathetic to workers’ unionizing aspirations. a vote found since February that 67% of the more than 2,500 respondents supported unionization efforts of Starbucks employees. Whether that support still holds true even after several months of sky-high inflation rates, remains to be seen.

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