Facebook Instagram Twitter YouTube

#AllThatsLeftPod: What’s Behind the U.S. Unionization Wave?

In this episode, we discuss the basics of unions — what they are, why they’re important, and how union elections work — and the factors that led to a rise in unionization efforts at Starbucks, Amazon, and other companies.

Left Voice

June 16, 2022
Facebook Twitter Share
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

Listen on Spotify | Apple Podcasts | Online

*

Unions have been in the news and on people’s minds this year. In April, workers at a warehouse on Staten Island in New York formed the first ever U.S. Amazon union. There’s also been a wave of unionizations at Starbucks, as well as unionization efforts at Apple stores, Verizon stores, Trader Joe’s, and many other companies.

Union approval in the U.S. is also at its highest point in decades: over two thirds of Americans support labor unions, and over three quarters Americans support the Amazon unionization effort. 

What has caused this unionization wave and renewed interest in labor struggle? For one, the coronavirus pandemic showed workers that they — not the bosses — were essential, and that the entire system depends upon our labor. The pandemic came after decades of neoliberalism had already chipped away at jobs, wages, and working conditions, and made life increasingly precarious for the working class. 

Recent years have also seen the rise of “Generation U” for “Union.” This new generation of workers was forged in the Black Lives Matter movement, particularly during the 2020 uprisings after the brutal murder of George Floyd. This movement has evolved to include deep discussion of the ways that capitalism disenfranchises the specially oppressed, from attacks on Black lives to attacks on trans rights. Many of the workers who are driving today’s unionization efforts are seeing the connections between their own oppressed identities and their role as exploited members of the working class. 

And yet, only around 10 percent of Americans are part of a union — far fewer than in earlier decades — and labor and unions are under fierce attack by capitalists. Union busting, including retaliatory firings, are happening in full force at Amazon, Starbucks, and other companies.

In addition to fighting for more unions, we also need to fight for class independence, and independence from both Democrats and Republicans. We also need to fight for democratic unions led by rank-and-file-workers which, in turn, needs to be a part of building a political organization that truly represents the interests of the working class and the oppressed. More than ever, we need a fighting labor movement.

In this episode, we discuss these topics with Left Voice editor and PSC-CUNY member James Hoff.

To learn more:

Support this podcast on Patreon

Facebook Twitter Share

Left Voice

Militant journalism, revolutionary politics.

Ideas & Debates

A slightly blurry photo of a crowd of people all raising their fists.

Subalterns, Postcolonialists, and the Specter of Capital: A Polemic from Marxism

The theories of the “postcolonialists” condemn us to the mere repetition of local resistance with no way out of the brutal plundering of people by imperialism, multiple repressions, and exploitation. The socialist strategy is a tool to eradicate the society based on this brutality.

Members of far-right group Patriot front march while carrying US flags

‘A United Labor Movement Can Stop the Far Right’: An Interview with Warren Montag

Warren Montag discusses the rise of the U.S. Far Right, and how the labor movement can help create a unified force capable of stopping it.

Left Voice

July 29, 2022
All That's Left, the podcast from Left Voice.

#AllThatsLeftPod: Disability Pride Month

Happy Disability Pride Month! In our latest podcast episode, two Left Voice members discuss disability under capitalism, and how socialism can fight for true disability rights.

Left Voice

July 29, 2022
A soldier holds a machine gun as he patrols the Russian northern military base on Kotelny island, beyond the Arctic circle on April 3, 2019. The Russian military base is home to 250 soldiers and is to serve as a model for future military installations in the Arctic.

Disappearing Arctic Ice Cap Opens New Terrain for Imperialist Conflict

The Arctic Circle is the scene of escalating imperial tensions and militaristic escalation. Capitalist irrationality is destroying the planet.

Carlos Rubio

July 28, 2022

MOST RECENT

Dictating Rules from Below: The Re-Emergence of Workers’ Councils in Iran

Gianni Del Panta interviews Ida Nikou, a doctoral candidate in sociology at Stony Brook State University in New York. Her dissertation focuses on the labor movement in Iran and how the neoliberal turn has impacted workers' rights and living conditions.

Gianni Del Panta

August 12, 2022

Starbucks Fires Joselyn Chuquillanqui in Retaliation for Union Organizing

Joselyn Chuquillanqui was fired after working at Starbucks for almost 7 years. She is just one of over 70 workers fired for organizing around the country as the company ramps up its union busting.

Luigi Morris

August 12, 2022

British Postal Workers Reject Below-Inflation Contract Offer and Announce Upcoming Strike

The union representing postal workers in Britain has announced four days of strikes in the coming weeks — the first such labor action since 2009.

Illustration of a bald eagle on the left and yellow dragon on the right, face-to-face, with the flags of the U.S., R.O.C., and P.R.C. in the background

China and the U.S.: War Games in a Tense World

The visit to Taiwan by Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, has led to a new escalation in tensions between the United States and China. Beijing responded by launching missiles right under Taiwan’s nose — war games on the knife-edge.

Esteban Mercatante

August 10, 2022