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Could union victory at VW trigger a wave?

by SuperiorInvest

“If workers in Chattanooga get a great contract, a big raise, better health benefits and then the same thing at Mercedes, there will be a lot more good opportunities to get good contracts in a short time,” said co-executive Madeline Janis. director of Jobs to Move America, a group that seeks to create good jobs in clean technology industries.

Ms. Janis, whose group is involved in unionizing factory workers in the South, said the push could travel beyond the auto industry to other manufacturers because employees at different companies in the region often know each other and discuss these topics. “Her brothers, sisters and her spouses are working in other plants,” she said. “She will be on all social networks.”

And some experts said an increase in unionization in factories could spread to other types of jobs. “Enthusiasm is contagious in every industry,” said David Pryzbylski, a Barnes & Thornburg attorney representing employers. “People look at it and say, 'Hey, I think there's something here.' Maybe I should be interested too.'”

Several workers echoed the point, saying they had been encouraged by labor actions in other industries in recent years. Successful campaigns in Hollywood and at companies like Starbucks and Apple “have been a big help to us,” said Emma Geiger, a Sega of America worker who helped unionize the video game maker last year. “Especially in the perception of unions in general as something not to be feared, but to be embraced.”

Overall, nearly 70 percent of Americans say they support unions, according to Gallup, up from 50 percent a decade and a half ago. After falling for several years, union membership rose by nearly 280,000 in 2022 and about half that amount last year, although the percentage of unionized workers declined slightly as even more people entered the workforce. Filings for union elections increased 35 percent in the six months ending in March compared with the same period a year earlier, according to the National Labor Relations Board.

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