Labor Day Stories

Labor Day Related Stories or Economic Outlook Labor Day Edition

I wish I had a lot of good news on Labor Day, but I don’t. 

The good news

There are a couple of Labor bright spots.

On July 31st, the New York State Nurses Association and the NYC Health and Hospitals Corporation reached a settlement. They will receive bonus payments and wage increases of 3% over the next five years. They also have added minimum staffing levels. (NYSNA)

The Teamsters settled a historic agreement with UPS. (Teamsters). The agreement increases wages by $2.75 per hour, part-time workers will make a minimum of $21.00 per hour, and limits on forced work on scheduled days off.

UPS workers also got a five-year deal covering 340,000 workers. Part-time workers will make a minimum of $21 dollars an hour and full-time workers $49.00 dollars per hour. Most UPS workers are part-time. (CNBC)

The National Football League Players Association just appointed a new executive director, Lloyd Howell Jr., with no connection to Football.  They continue to wrestle with supporting NFL players who leave or retire with disabilities and injuries. The minimum rookie salary is $750,000. The current collective bargaining agreement (CBA) goes until 2023, so no strikes any time soon. (USA Today). Since Aaron Rodger’s injury, they are promoting grass fields.

The National Basketball Players Association signed a new collective bargaining agreement (CBA) in April which also extends to 2030. (NBPA)

Starbucks Workers United has organized more than 350 stores in 40 states, but the company refuses to negotiate a national contract.  Starbucks is insisting on negotiating store-by-store, a stalling tactic.  (Starbucks Workers United)

The overall rate of unionization was 10% (33% for public sector workers and 6% for private sector workers) in 2022. (BLS) The number of workers with union membership increased by 273,000 while non-union employment increased by 5.3 million.

Pew Research reported that 58% of people believed the decline in unions was bad for the country (Pew Research). While, 48% of people would join a union if they had the option (PBS).

Black unemployment is historically low at 5.7% and wages for workers increased by 4.3% compared to last year.  (BLS)

Bad news

But overall, the picture for workers and unions is gloomy. Union membership continues to decline in the private sector.  Right now, only 6.0% of private employees belong to a union. (BLS). And few have the option to join one.

Over the past 20-year corporate profits have risen by nearly 300% while wages have grown by only 70%.  In other words, the increase in corporate profits is 4 times the increase in wages. (FRED)

And worse, some of the media blamed worker wage increases for the spike in inflation while corporate profits were at an all-time high.  Price hikes (markup growth) accounted for more than 50% of inflation in 2021 according to the KC Federal Reserve. (KC Fed)

Meanwhile, Starbucks and Amazon, remain resistant to unionizing.  They won’t even bargain with recognized unions. Starbucks harasses employees at union stores and closes them, does not give wage increases at union stores, and refuses to bargain nationally. (Northwest Labor Press) (Capital & Main)

We want to add a great site that covers how collective bargaining with Starbucks works. (One.Starbucks)

The UAW, representing about 146,000 workers at GM and Stellantis (Fiat Chrysler) continued talks. The old contract ends on September 15th and the union has already authorized a strike, if necessary.   A strike could still cripple both car companies, even though most US cars are built domestically in non-union shops in the South.  The UAW is seeking large pay increases, restoration of pensions, and an end to wage tiers. (Reuters) (AP)

Screenwriters and Actors strike entered its fourth month. More than 11,000 members of the Writers Guild of America stuck in May then SAG-AFTRA, which represents 160,000 screen actors joined the strike in June.  The union wants a larger share of streaming revenues and job security. (Vox)

However, we don’t have to accept it.  We really can change the economy, one little piece at a time.  It takes active consumer pressure. I am old enough to remember boycotting grapes.

Take Starbucks as an example. (Guardian)

Right now, I am boycotting Starbucks non-union stores because of their strong anti-union stance.  I even wrote an e-mail to them explain my position.  I know one e-mail does not matter. They factor in losing union supporters like me as the cost of doing business. However, I know they can count, but If enough people write in or buy only from Starbucks union stores, they will get scared.

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