Companies with young workers need to hear this: Gen Z has been busy organizing unions.
There is a new, younger generation replacing Millennials at work. Anyone born in 1997 or later is in Generation Z. For all the discussions about Millennials, they were not the union organizing force that Gen Z is becoming.
While reasons behind each union organizing drive is unique to each company, Gen Z workers are leading the charge.
The Center for American Progress found Gen Z’s approval rating of unions is 64.3%, compared to 60.5% for Millennials and 57.8% for Gen X.
Younger workers are overrepresented in retail. According to federal data, about 24% of retail workers are under 24, compared with 12% of workers overall. And 46% are under 34, compared to 35% of workers overall.
Gen Z will not work retail forever. They will change jobs and work in all industries. Whether their pro-union philosophies will travel with them is unknown.
Experts opine that Gen Z’s interest in union organizing and workers’ rights stem from their childhood. They have lived through the Great Recession, the Covid pandemic, enormous inflation, and are hearing that the U.S. economy is headed for another downturn.
They watched as their parents and grandparents were laid off, got sick, couldn’t afford to maintain their lifestyles, have crushing debt, and are uncertain about the future.
This makes Gen Z less tolerant of high CEO salaries and corporate profits. They believe they should have a bigger piece of the pie. They distrust leadership because leaders created the problems that shaped their philosophies. They are used to having an equal say about things in their lives.
Social media has erased the corporate ladder to them. They believe they should have a direct line to decision makers and be involved in decisions impacting their employment.
They are connecting with union organizers across the county to amplify their efforts. Union representation petitions and unfair labor practice charges were up last year resulting in the NLRB’s largest single-year increase of both since 1976.
Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.
Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.
You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.