WASHINGTON (Gray DC) — From Starbucks to Chipotle to Apple, frontline workers at some of America’s best-known companies are trying to form unions.

Demands for higher wages, greater benefits and better working conditions have drawn praise from some of the fiercest pro-union lawmakers.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) told reporters during a meeting with Ohio Starbucks employees in July who were trying to unionize, “This generation of Lou and his coworkers is the pro-union generation and most active pro-worker I have seen in my life. lifetime. They understand that if they are organized in a union, having a union card means better wages, better benefits, more control over your work schedule, a balance between your life and your work. It’s everything in people’s lives.

Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that nearly 34% of public sector employees belonged to a union in 2021, compared to just over 6% of unionized employees in the private sector.

Georgetown University history professor Joe McCartin, who studies and writes extensively on US labor history, said the surge in private sector organizing efforts this year is led by employees younger people who have worked during the pandemic and who now feel the economy offers them fallback options if challenging their employers through organizing efforts does not work.

“I think the strength and influence of unions has been declining for many years. This is a moment of opportunity for unions to show that they can be relevant for young workers,” said McCartin. “I don’t think we’ve seen anything like this, in the private sector, for a very long time.”

McCartin also said he’s not sure yet if this year’s efforts are part of a new trend.

By contrast, Peter St Onge, an economist at the conservative Heritage Foundation, said he expects and hopes this year’s rise will be just a blip.

St Onge said: “Most economists are now expecting a recession next year, so I would expect that type of move to lose traction if workers don’t feel as confident as they did. they can simply park in any parking lot and find a job there. ”

The Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that union employees earned more money than non-union employees last year. Meanwhile, overall union participation since 1983 has fallen from 20.1% of the workforce to 10.8% in 2021.

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