Labor organizers say the unionization of a Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York, could be “the tip of the iceberg.”
“The pandemic has laid bare the typical lip service that workers get,” said Christian Sweeney, deputy organizing director of the AFL-CIO labor union. “There’s been lots of praise for people doing grunt work,” but few worker gains, he said.
“Workers doing essential work have higher expectations that they’re going to see wages and benefits reflect the essential nature of their work,” Sweeney said. More organizing activity is growing at restaurants, food retail establishments and among e-commerce delivery and distribution center workers, he said.
Across the country, a new momentum appears to be gathering for increased worker power and rights. Employers are clamoring for workers as many hang back for health or child care issues, or because their time apart has given them a chance to reflect on what they want out of life. Historic levels of job openings have stiffened workers’ spines as they feel more confident than they have in years, quitting jobs at historic levels, in what is being termed “The Great Resignation,” and demanding higher wages and benefits.
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