A Labor Perspective From American Federation Of Government Employees President Everett Kelley: While Union Approval ‘Is High, Anti-Union Laws Are Holding Back Expansion’
Unions rarely have been more popular than they are today, but Anti-Union Labor Laws are keeping Union Membership numbers artificially low by making it harder for Workers who want to form or join a Union to do so.
Indeed, a 2021 Gallup Poll found that 68% of Americans approve of Labor Unions - the highest percentage since 1965.
Support is even higher among young adults (ages 18-to-34), at 71%.
That support is translating into action as workers across the country are getting organized and fighting for better wages and working conditions.
A group of Starbucks workers in Buffalo, New York made history in December by becoming the first Employees of the coffee chain to Unionize.
Amazon Workers in Alabama will get another shot at forming a Union after the company was found to have interfered in the April election there, while Workers at four Amazon warehouses in Staten Island are collecting signatures now to win support for a Union Election there.
Within the government, four Unions recently filed suit against the Justice Department, arguing National Guard members mobilized by the Governor of Connecticut should be able to form and join a Union for service performed while working for the state - a right enjoyed by other Civilian State Employees.
The Union I lead, the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE), grew in Membership for a record 27 years until the Trump administration gutted Federal Workers’ Union Rights and made it almost impossible for us to recruit new Members.
We’ve seen an uptick in Workers voluntarily joining since President Joe Biden restored Workers’ Rights in January, despite challenges from the COVID-19 Pandemic.
After two years of decline, we recorded our first month of positive Membership growth in June 2021.
Yet, despite all this action, there is a huge gap between the share of Workers with Union Representation (12.1%) and the share of Workers who want Union Representation - which has grown from 32% in 1995 to 48% in 2017, an increase of 50%.
That’s nearly a 36 percentage point gap between Americans who want a Union and those who actually have one.
It’s easy to see why Americans would want to join a Union.
Data consistently show a direct link between growing Union Membership and declining income inequality.
That’s because Unions raise wages for both Union Members and Non-Members - for Women in particular - and reduce racial economic disparities.
So what’s preventing those Americans who want to join a Union from exercising their freedom to do so?
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