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🏭 A Union Rally
You're not imagining things: unionizing efforts across the country are indeed increasing. For the first nine months of the fiscal year, union petition filings have increased 56% over the number of filings for the entirety of FY2021 — hitting 1,935 petitions, already 695 more than last year's total. And it's not just unionizing efforts on the rise, notes the National Labor Relations Board, but charges of unfair labor practices as well. For FY2022 so far, “unfair labor practice charges have increased 14.5% — from 11,451 to 13,106,” the NLRB's statement reads.
But the board is struggling to keep up with this influx, following budget cuts to the agency resulting in the lowest staffing levels since the 1960s. “Our dedicated staff, especially in our 48 field offices, are handling unsustainable caseloads. The Agency urgently needs more resources to process petitions and conduct elections, investigate unfair labor practice charges, and obtain full remedies for workers whose labor rights have been violated,” said NLRB General Counsel Jennifer Abruzzo. “We need Congress to help us restore the capacity that we have lost after years of underfunding.”
As The Hill notes, even with this unionizing uptick, union membership among the American workforce is just about half of what it was back in the early 1980s— 10.3% of the workforce in 2021, versus 20% in 1983.
The Starbucks Count
“Some of what’s in this count is a large number of relatively small workplaces,” Rebecca Givan, professor of labor studies at Rutgers University, explained to Marketplace. “A Starbucks coffee shop with maybe 20 workers and an Amazon warehouse with 6,000 workers. Each of those is just one election.” Of this year's nearly 2,000 union petition filings so far this year, the ones from Starbucks account for about 16%. And with each Starbucks union win, more and more of their employees are thinking of joining in.
It's wild to note how much Starbucks employees account for the uptick in unionizing efforts, but it’s a great trend to see that workers around the country are fighting to take back some control and power.