At the end of November 2021 we issued our Top Trends for 2022. One of them was “LABOR UNION COMEBACK.”
As forecast, it has come back. In October 2021, Trends Journal asked, “Where have all the workers gone?”; see “SPOTLIGHT: WORKERS ON DEMAND,” which told of a labor market already at historically low levels and suffering from low participation, with record numbers quitting or retiring across all demographics.
That article also, in its TREND FORECAST, noted that labor unions, after a long period of decline in the U.S., would make a comeback.
Another Trends Journal article, “‘THE GREAT RESIGNATION’: WILL JOBS COME BACK?” quantified that phenomenon, pointing to the 4.43 million Americans who quit their jobs in September, the highest number since 2000, which brought this year’s total to a record 34.5 million and the quit rate to a record high of 3 percent; also see “RECORD QUIT RATES: TAKE YOUR JOB AND SHOVE IT.”
Here is the latest Unionization Top Trend Update:
APPLE: An Apple store in Atlanta on Wednesday filed a petition to unionize and could become the first location to receive union representation.
The workers at these stores said they feel like second-class citizens when compared to their corporate colleagues, The New York Times reported. This particular store, located in the Cumberland Mall, has about 100 workers and 70 signed the petition, the report said.
“We want equal to what corporate actually gets,” Sydney Rhodes, an employee at the location, told the paper. She said she has been at the store for about four years, and there seems to be no clear career path for workers.
“Another reason why we’re working toward this union is for a more clear and concise way to grow, especially internally,” she said. (See “UNIONIZATION: TOP TREND FOR 2022 ON-TREND.”)
Derrick Bowles, an Apple employee at the location, told an Atlanta radio station, “Apple is a profoundly positive place to work, but we know that the company can better live up to their ideals and so we’re excited to be joining together with our coworkers to bring Apple to the negotiating table and make this an even better place to work.”
The Trends Journal has long reported on the shift of many workers stuck in menial jobs who want companies that make record profit to improve working conditions and offer a career path. (See “REI: UNIONIZATION TREND EXPANDS AS FORECAST” and “UNIONIZATION ON-TREND: AMAZON WORKERS VOTE TO UNIONIZE.”)
STARBUCKS: Starbucks, the famous coffee chain, faced allegations that it fired seven employees in Memphis due to their support of unionization.
The National Labor Relations Board filed a complaint Friday and said the employees at the Poplar and Highland store were illegally fired in February in retaliation for wanting to form a union, The New York Times reported.
“On behalf of the Memphis 7, although we are excited about the news, we knew from the moment each of us were terminated that this would be the outcome,” Nikki Taylor, a former shift supervisor at the store, told The Commercial Appeal after learning about the complaint. “We are excited for the public to know the truth and to return to work at our soon-to-be-unionized Starbucks.”
The paper said the NLRB is planning on suing Starbucks in civil court over the firings. The complaint says the coffee chain “has been interfering with, restraining, and conversing employees in the exercise of their rights.”
SB Workers United, leader of Starbucks’ unionization efforts, told the paper in a statement that it is “not surprising that the complaint was issued.”
“Starbucks must end their aggressive and unprecedented anti-union campaign against workers and be held accountable, both in the court of law and the court of public opinion,” the statement read.
Starbucks told NPR that it “wholly disagree[s]” with the claims made by the labor board in the lawsuit.
“These partners were terminated because they violated our established policies. In some instances, they also violated state law,” a spokesperson said. “A partner’s interest in union representation does not exempt them from the standards we’ve put in place to protect partners, customers, and the communities that we serve.” Starbucks refers to its employees as “partners.”
Starbucks also told NPR that the “intimidation, bullying and harassment we’re seeing from some union organizers is not acceptable.”
The Trends Journal has been reporting extensively on the push to unionize at Starbucks and other major companies that have made record profits during the COVID-19 outbreak. (See “UNIONIZATION TREND, ON-TREND: STARBUCKS WORKERS VOTED TO UNIONIZE,” “TOP TREND 2022: 3 MORE STARBUCKS LOCATIONS IN BUFFALO VOTE TO UNIONIZE” and “EMPLOYEES AT 3 NYC-AREA STARBUCKS FILE PETITION TO UNIONIZE.”)
Hitting Close to Home
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery, located in Seattle’s Capitol Hill, voted to unionize last week in a 38-27 vote. The Roastery is the second of the three in the U.S. to join the union.
TRENDPOST: Have the serfs of Slavelandia had enough?
As noted in the TRENDS-EYE VIEW in previous issues, the general workforce is no longer willing to settle for menial work at unlivable wages with no chance for growth.
Now they are unionizing and reclaiming their power, as we have documented in “Starbucks Store to Unionize: A Top Trend for 2022?” (14 Dec 2021), “Activision Studio Group Will Form a Union, Solidifying Trends Journal Forecast” (25 Jan 2022), “Politico Journalists Form a Union, a Trend of the Times” (2 Nov 2021) and “REI: Unionization Trend Expands as Forecast” (1 Feb 2022).
Salaried workers also are using their leverage in a tight labor market, particularly in their demands to continue working from home, as we report in “Remote Work is Bottom Line for Third of Salaried Workers” in this issue.
We have pointed out that Howard Schultz, the founder who recently took over as CEO of the company again after the previous chief’s departure, is now facing new challenges than in 2017—when he stepped down.
More than 200 of the company’s 9,000 locations in the U.S. are seeking union representation.
“I am not in business, as a shareholder of Starbucks, to make every single decision based on the stock price for the quarter,” he said at a recent meeting, according to The Wall Street Journal. “Those days, ladies and gentlemen, are over.”
The Associated Press pointed out that Schultz, 68, managed to fight attempts to unionize at stores and roasting plants. The report said the company, in the early 2000s, was forced to rehire fired employees and settle labor law violations.
ACTIVISION: Raven Software, a division of Activision Blizzard, can file for a formal union election after the company did not immediately grant the union formal recognition, according to a report.
“We are disappointed that a decision that could significantly impact the future of our entire studio will be made by fewer than 10% of our employees,” a spokesperson from Activision Blizzard told TechCrunch. “We believe a direct relationship with team members is the best path to achieving individual and company goals.”
Polygon reported that the move to unionize was sparked in January after an employee walkout when a group of Raven Software contract workers were told that they would not be offered full-time jobs along with other workers. (See “NY TIMES TECH WORKERS VOTE FOR UNIONIZATION, START OF ‘WAVE’ IN TECH INDUSTRY.”)
The Trends Journal reported back in January 2022 that the employees from Raven Software had hoped that the company would voluntarily recognize the union without a fight.
About 80 percent of the 34 employees signed on at the time. The union that would represent the employees is Game Workers Alliance.
There were recently allegations of sexual harassment at the company and game workers are known to work long hours, and sometimes on the weekend when a deadline approaches for a new game.
TREND FORECAST: Unionization will continue to be a Top Trend; the more limited the supply of workers (made worse by “No Jab, No Job” mandates; (see “WANT TO KEEP YOUR JOB? GET THE JAB!” and “NO JAB, NO JOB. VACCINE MANDATES ‘WORKING’”), the more powerful the trend toward unionization will be.
And, as inflation continues to rise faster than wages, corporations that wish to incentivize their workforce to do and give the best they can, will raise the pay scale to levels higher than inflation rates. In doing so, they will create atmospheres of mutual appreciation.