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Union Focus Extends Far Beyond Starbucks

There has been a lot written this year about Starbucks and the unprecedented rate of unionizing taking place at its restaurants – over 230 stores so far this year. But that activity does not tell the wholes story of union activity across the U.S..  This new union movement is not just a Starbucks phenomenon.  Recently published data from Bloomberg finds the majority of unionizing in the United States is outside of Starbucks, not inside. 

In the report covering the first half of 2022, Bloomberg highlights that of the 837 union elections held, 641 resulted in union wins. This is a staggering win rate of 76.58% and those numbers represent nearly a doubling of elections (and wins) over the same period last year.  The result is an additional 43,150 unionized workers, compared to just under 19,000 over the same period last year. The realization for everyone outside of Starbucks is this activity is a cultural shift, not a reaction to just one employer. 

Not Just a Starbucks Story

While we and others have been writing mostly about Starbucks and the historic rate of unionizing taking place with its stores, the real headline should be ‘Unionizing Efforts Soar to 17-year High with Historic Win Rates!’  To put that headline in greater focus, consider only 200 of the 641 union wins that took place in the first six months of the year were at Starbucks locations.  Thus, less than a third of the unionizing took place at Starbucks location.  But these wins resulted in only 5,313 new unionized employees, which represented only 12% of the over 43,000 newly unionized employees.

The other 441 union wins took place at a variety of industries across the United States.  While quick service restaurants had their share of activity, no sector was safe, including the gig sector, as well as companies that pride themselves on being employee friendly, such as REI, Apple, Amazon, and Trader Joe’s.



Revitalized unionization is a national trend.  Union activity is growing across all sectors – no one sector is the target or insulated from future attacks. This is a movement and only through proactive issue-free efforts can this movement be controlled.  Waiting to be reactive proved devastating for Starbucks and we expect the same in all other businesses.

Efforts to unionize are expanding at an alarming rate, so much so the NLRB is seeking a massive increase in its budget for next year, to be able to handle all the anticipated new actions. Moreover, at least until the Biden Administration leaves office, we expect the NLRB will continue to make unionizing easier for unions.  It is a brave and challenging new world!

Brody and Associates regularly advises management on all issues involving unions, staying union-free, complying with the newest decision issued by the NLRB, and training management on how to deal with all these challenges. If we can be of assistance in this area, please contact us at info@brodyandassociates.com or 203.454.0560.