After decades of decline in the United States, unions may be poised for a comeback.
Every month seems to bring more promising news for organized labor. Workers at Starbucks have organized roughly 100 stores from coast to coast since last fall. REI employees formed the outdoor retailer’s very first union. Amazon employees defied all the odds and won an 8,000-worker union election in New York City. And an Apple Store in Towson, Maryland, became the first to unionize last month.
Just 1 in 10 U.S. workers now belongs to a union, down from roughly 1 in 3 in the period following World War II. Yet the labor movement is showing more muscle now than it has in years. Emboldened by a tight labor market and two years of toiling through a pandemic, workers are succeeding in organizing companies that have staunchly resisted unionization, and many of them are doing it practically on their own.
HuffPost will be gathering some of them together to explain how and why they did it.
On July 20, workers from the Amazon, Starbucks, REI and Apple unions will take part in a HuffPost panel discussion called “A New Labor Movement,” moderated by our labor reporter, Dave Jamieson. The workers will talk about the roots of their organizing campaigns, the connections they forged with their coworkers and the tactics they used to defeat the anti-union campaigns waged by their employers.
All these companies have opposed their employees’ effort to organize, each in their own way. Starbucks has flooded stores with managers and been accused of retaliating against union activists. Amazon has spent millions of dollars on high-priced anti-union consultants. REI has brandished its progressive image in hopes of diluting union support. And an Apple executive sent out a video to tens of thousands of retail workers discouraging them from unionizing. Organizers will share their stories of battling powerful companies from the inside, often at great personal risk, and their views of where the U.S. labor movement is headed.
The event will be at 5:30 p.m. on July 20 at the BuzzFeed offices in New York City. Speakers will include Angelika Maldonado, vice president of the Amazon Labor Union; Reese Mercado and Cynthia Villafane, members of Starbucks Workers United; Emma Kate Harris, REI worker and member of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union; and Billy Jarboe, Apple Store worker and member of the International Associations of Machinists and Aerospace Workers.
HuffPost will be livestreaming the event here and on our Facebook page. Audience members in the room will be allowed to ask questions, but we’d also like to hear from those of you who can’t make it in person. If you have a question you’d like to submit or want to get a reminder about the livestream, you can email email@example.com.
And if you’d like to attend the event, please RSVP here. Space is limited and RSVPs will be approved on a first-come, first-served basis.