No Shortage Of Retail And Restaurant Organizing

by | Sep 29, 2022 | Bargaining/Negotiations, Education, Industry, Retail, SEIU, Strikes, Union Organizing, Unions

We recently told you about the fast-food dreaming happening in California, where an SEIU-pushed bill (recently signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom) will take effect in 2023. The financial fallout from this bill could be significant, since it bumps the industry’s lowest paid workers up to a $22 minimum wage. As well, these workers will have the power to bargain through a newly created industry council, all of which could strain businesses and also influence copycat state lawmakers and workers in other industries.

If one adds this to the pile of Starbucks developments over the past year, it’s no wonder that food-service workers (along with their retail counterparts) continue to fuel talk of a labor resurgence, even though (if one looks at the full picture) unions aren’t too popular among workers. Still, the pandemic years (which aren’t over yet) proved that even those industries that seemed immune (in part due to high turnover) to union activity continue to witness organizing behavior, especially in the wake of high-profile examples like Starbucks, which we’ll talk about in a moment. Let’s run down recent news of note:

  • Trader Joe’s (which recently experienced the company’s “first” union petition in Massachusetts) saw workers at a Brooklyn store follow suit.
  • Starbucks continues to have the dubious distinction of inspiring much union activity in the food-service and retail industries. The company recently doubled back to address morale and create new benefits that will be exclusive to non-union workers. However, the coffeehouse giant has now signaled its readiness to begin bargaining with its 234 cafes that have unionized thus far. The company could soon also face a mess of “just cause” bids from the Workers United bargaining committee, which claims that the company fired over 110 workers as retaliation for organizing activity.

And in academia, a rush of union activity continues at universities. One such push takes place in Massachusetts, where the Worcester Polytechnic Institute Graduate Workers’ Union filed with the NLRB (while seeking greater benefits and higher wages). This move follows a graduate student worker strike at Clark university, thereby suggesting that the spreading trend of organizing is something to keep an eye out for in all industries.

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