What Does the Labor Union Boom Mean for the Future?

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Is there about to be a labor union boom? Will the current resurgence lose steam?

Despite decades of declining membership, labor unions are staging a resurgence. Some experts say that unions are well-positioned to grow their influence, with broad public support and businesses suffering labor shortages. Others contend that unions face a bumpy road ahead with fewer members and strong resistance from companies.

Here’s a look at the history of labor unions, and whether or not a union boom is on the horizon.

The Modern Union Boom

After decades of declining membership, American labor unions are experiencing a resurgence and growing more assertive. Here’s what you need to know about the labor union boom.

The History of Labor Unions

American unions’ influence has diminished significantly from their historical prominence over the past century, their power eroded by legal reforms and unsuccessful strikes.

But 2022 witnessed a revival in union strikes and organizing, with more than 200,000 workers involved in 380 work stoppages and union petitions to the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) jumping 53% from 2021. In 2023, 150 major union contracts covering 1.5 million workers either came to an end or are set to expire in the entertainment, shipping, and auto industries—and unions, feeling bullish, have seized the opportunity to take big companies to task:

Experts say that, to date, these labor disputes haven’t significantly impacted most Americans’ daily lives. But an auto workers’ strike in which hundreds of thousands of workers walk off the job could broadly impact the public, draw further media attention to unions’ plight, and influence their sway moving forward. 

View 1: Unions are Well-Positioned to Grow Stronger

Some experts say that unions, despite their diminished their size and influence, are now on the offensive and have leverage to play hardball due to:

View 2: Unions Have a Rough Road Ahead

Other experts counter that unions’ successes aren’t guaranteed to last and that the labor movement may lose steam. This is because:

Looking Ahead

Legal experts who anticipate a surge in union activities in the coming years urge unionized and non-unionized companies to ready themselves for increased mobilization efforts by:

  • Cultivating trust and establishing effective communication with their workforce. 
  • Developing comprehensive strike strategies.

But others contend that a full revival of labor unions is unlikely, as membership numbers aren’t expected to suddenly surge. They suggest that unions’ continued momentum will hinge on their ability to navigate potential legal challenges and delays.  

What Does the Labor Union Boom Mean for the Future?

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Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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