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As Workers Within The Industry “Connect The Dots,” Labor Organizing’s ‘Next Frontier Is The Tech Industry,’ National AFL-CIO President Shuler Says

Published Tuesday, December 7, 2021
by Nandita Bose/Reuters
As Workers Within The Industry “Connect The Dots,” Labor Organizing’s ‘Next Frontier Is The Tech Industry,’ National AFL-CIO President Shuler Says

(WASHINGTON, D.C.) - The U.S. Tech Sector is the next frontier For Labor Organizing and its Workers are starting to understand the collective power Unions have, National AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler said at the Reuters Next Conference.

Shuler said the Labor Federation - which comprises 56 affiliated Unions and 12.5 million Workers - wants to enable more organizing in the Tech Industry under her leadership.

“What we are seeing in the Tech Sector is Workers rising up.  You look at companies like YouTube, Google, Apple.  Their Workers have been speaking out.  They have been staging walkouts on issues like racial justice and sexual harassment,” Shuler said.  “You don’t have the collective power that you have when you have a Union and I think Tech Workers are starting to connect the dots.”

Tech is among the least Unionized major industries in the country despite some recent organizing success.

In recent years, Unions - including the Communications Workers of America (CWA), have launched campaigns in Silicon Valley and organized Workers at startups such as Kickstarter and Glitch.  The CWA also formed the Alphabet Workers Union, a so-called Minority Union that does not have collective bargaining rights.

But many of the Unions’ pushes are still at an early stage and it remains to be seen whether they will catch on widely.

Shuler said U.S. Labor Laws in the United States “are broken” and until they are reformed, outcomes like the rejection of a Union by Workers at an Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama will be tough to fight.

Amazon Workers in Alabama rejected forming a Union by a more than 2-to-1 margin in April.

The Union said the company interfered in the election, a charge Amazon has denied.

However, last month, a Regional Director for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ordered a rerun of the election.

Shuler said Workers will be able to meet in person outside the workplace before this election, something the COVID-19 Pandemic prevented in the first election.

President Joe Biden’s administration has put Unions at the center of policy which Shuler said has offered the U.S. Labor Movement significant momentum.

“We have the public on our side for the first time in a long time,” she said, citing a recent Gallup poll that showed 68% of people in the country support Unions.

But whether that translates into more Workers across sectors joining Unions remains to be seen.

Shuler also said the Biden White House is on board with getting the PRO Act - a sweeping Labor Reform Bill - passed and hopes the legislation will be taken up in the U.S. Senate for debate as soon as January, where it has been stuck after it passed the House of Representatives in March.

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