- Union interest may be on the upswing in the U.S. An August 2022 report from Jobcase suggests 70% of nonunion “skilled and hourly workers” in the U.S. would consider joining a union if given the opportunity.
- Breaking it down by generation, Jobcase suggests that millennials are most likely to flirt with the idea of joining a union: 76% of millennial respondents said they’d be likely to vote for union membership, compared to to 73% of Gen Zers surveyed, 66% of Gen Xers surveyed and 62% of baby boomers surveyed.
- Why are people thinking about union membership? More than half would have their sights on higher pay (57%) and improved benefits packages (56%). About half (49%) said they’d be interested in better job protections. Gen Z was most likely to say the prospect of improving their hours and schedule would draw them to join a union.
In its report, Jobcase notes a decadeslong, downward trend in union activity, which makes these findings from June and July 2022 notable. Researchers for the talent platform found that of the “non-union U.S. skilled and hourly workers” surveyed this summer, 41% are more likely to consider joining a union now than 3 years ago. Data from Gallup and Pew Research Center also support the idea that, since the pandemic, the ice of union disinterest is thawing.
In 2021, Gallup’s audit of union approval rates throughout the 20th and 21st century found that approval of labor unions were at their highest point that year (68%) since 1965 (71%).
Additionally, Pew data from January 2022 suggests 58% of U.S. adults believe the decline of union participation is “somewhat bad” or “very bad” for the country. Further, 61% say this has been bad for working people.
Many HR leads and chief people officers have likely already been keeping up with the shifting tide in the news cycle. Amazon workers in Bessemer, Alabama and their peers in New York City have been working their way through union election processes. In turn, since December 2021, Starbucks employees in Buffalo, Rochester, Ithaca and Kansas City have organized with help from Workers United International. Along with a Manhattan flagship store, Starbucks baristas in Seattle, the company’s homebase, have been attempting to unionize throughout 2022.
As union groundswell continues, talent managers should also consider findings from the Jobcase report underscoring employee desires for equality and equity: 67% of respondents said it’s either “very” or “extremely” important for unions to advocate for fairness regarding how workers are valued, versus how investors, owners and executives are valued. More than a third (34%) of respondents said improving worker pay, as opposed to increasing compensation for business leaders, would motivate them to join a union. About as many respondents (31%) also said that the prospect of better treatment from management might also inspire them to join a union.