Rising union support, strikes signal shift in labor landscape

Labor Day is a day when politicians court labor unions, and picnics are held across the nation. This year, unions are more optimistic about their prospects. Workers find unions more appealing due to better pay and fairer work regulations.

At Dallas Airport, American Airlines employees held a rally where they called out the airline for low wages and corporate greed. Employees argue that despite the airlines receiving billions in federal relief, they have not seen a pay raise since before the pandemic.

"We're all fighting corporate greed. Record-setting revenues, yet we are still here without a contract," said Flight Attendants Union National President Julie Hedrick.

A substantial automotive strike is also looming.

"You can't make $21 billion in profits in half a year and expect members to take a mediocre contract." said Shawn Fain, President of the United Auto Workers.

Seventy years ago, during the peak of unionization, over a third of Americans were union members. Today, that number has dwindled to just 6%. However, recent strikes and strike authorizations have generally yielded positive outcomes for workers.

The recent resolution of the UPS contract at the end of last month prevented a significant bottleneck in U.S. commerce and supply chains.

"It's the summer of workers," said Oakland Assemblywoman Mia Bonta.

She says a rising tide of union memberships raises all boats.

"It's a simple thing. Then workers are lifted, every community is lifted. So, this will catch fire because it's what we're all here for."

Last fall, a Gallup poll recorded the highest levels of union support since the 1960s. These days, approximately 71% of Americans approve of labor unions, a significant rise from just 28% in 2010.


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Gallup also discovered that around 10% of non-union workers express strong interest in joining a union. Polls show that Generation Z, workers aged 24 and under, are the most supportive of the union concept.

President Joe Biden is well aware of this.

"Bidenomics is a blue-collar blueprint for America. It's for you. You are labor, union labor" he emphasized.

Even the ongoing seven-week-long strike by actors and entertainers reflects the confidence of its members that it will yield the desired outcomes: higher incomes and enhanced job security.

"This is going to be for the future of the unions. This is a union country, we have to take care of our people." said actor Brad Garrett, a member of SAG/AFTRA.

The president echoes this sentiment.

"When the middle class prospers, everyone prospers," Biden said.