Unions Are Becoming More Powerful in Negotiations, Boardrooms, and Proxy Wars

  • Workers across America participated in strikes. 
  • Writers and actors shut down Hollywood, and auto workers forced the Big Three into submission.
  • Unions are experiencing a surge across the country.
  • Memberships are down.

(NewsReady.com) – Last year was the “Year of the Unions.” Major strikes took place across the country. Workers received major concessions from automakers, studios, hospitals, and other industries. Labor received a boost and unions proved they are still a force to be reckoned with. Now those unions are reportedly flexing their muscle across the US.

Unions Flex Muscles

Multiple reports over the last several months have stated that labor unions are showing how powerful they can be on the picket lines and in the boardrooms. There was a resurgence of labor strength in 2023, which continued into 2024.

An example of that strength is playing out right now. The United Steelworkers (USW) union is currently objecting to US Steel (USS) being acquired by Nippon Steel North America, a subsidiary of the Japanese company. USW notified its members that Nippon Steel sent the union a letter stating it would be responsible for the labor agreements with USS. The union stated that the Japanese parent company isn’t authorized to operate in America. The steelworkers appear to be on the cusp of a major strike.

There are also battles happening in boardrooms. A coalition of unions recently dropped a proxy war that pushed to reshape Starbucks’ leadership. Although they failed, Jim Rossman, Barclays’ head of shareholder advisory, said there had been several meetings at his company about “corporate preparedness” because of the push. He called it “an extraordinary wake-up call” for corporate America.

Membership Down, Enthusiasm Up

Although unions saw an increase in their clout last year, that didn’t necessarily translate into an increase in membership. The Associated Press reported that the US Bureau of Labor Statistics revealed that only 10% of salaried and hourly workers were union members in 2023. That was over 14 million workers, but it was an all-time low. Membership also shrank from 10.1% in 2022.

Kate Bronfenbrenner, with Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations, told the AP that the numbers are skewed a bit because they don’t account for newly formed unions that have yet to reach agreements with companies.

Despite the low numbers, polls have shown enthusiasm for unions. A Gallup poll found that 67% of Americans approve of unions. They have become more supportive of organizations’ efforts to change labor conditions for workers.

The 2024 elections will be another test of the unions’ power. They were once heavily influential in races across the nation. The USS and US Auto Workers (UAW) have endorsed President Joe Biden, but will that translate to votes? Americans will find out in about eight months.

Copyright 2024, NewsReady.com