It would be nice to think that the recent organizing campaigns at places such as Amazon and Starbucks were changing the overall picture of the labor movement. But it takes so, so much to turn overall union density in employment around and those shops, even if they were to get contracts, are not even close to large enough to even make a small dent in the issue. Thus, according to the annual Bureau of Labor Statistics report, union density continues to fall. It’s not falling by much at this point. It’s more noise than anything else. But a fall from 10.3 to 10.1 percent is not something the labor movement can take lightly.
Alas, two things have to happen for the union movement to really recover. First, we must have updated labor law. That’s the point of the PRO Act, but even though most elected Democrats support this, it almost certainly does not have even 50 votes in the Senate, thanks to the anti-union Mark Warner and the not very pro-union senators from Delaware, in addition to Manchin and Sinema. Second, the AFL-CIO unions need to spend real resources to organize workers and most simply aren’t doing that. Some are. Most are not. They are mostly happy to serve their own members and ensure their little fiefdoms are secure.
So all the news on the ground about rising support for unions and these high-profile campaigns are great, but we need much, much more.