The Face of Unions Have Changed Forever

The way of union organizing has changed forever. So too has the face of union membership.

Workers are organizing unions at small and medium size businesses much quicker than at large ones.

But the large ones get all the media’s attention.

Apparently, no one wants to hear about unions at the local mom & pop store, the corner auto body shop, the neighborhood restaurant, or the company that employs most of the people in town.

Way more unions are organizing those places than behemoth, multi-site, international tech giants.

It’s a lot easier to get 3 out of 5 mechanics, or 17 out of 35 grocery workers, or 41 out of 80 press operators to vote in favor of a union than to get 251 out of 500 warehouse employees to do the same.

This is partly why Starbucks union organizing has gone rampant.

Even though Starbucks has nearly 140,000 employees (down from pre-Covid 350,000) in over 30,000 stores throughout the world, it operates like a local, corner coffee shop with about 20 employees per store.

Labor organizing should stay high for years as a once-in-a-lifetime confluence of factors have created the perfect storm, including the use of social media, a younger workforce, a labor shortage, and the self-proclaimed “most pro-union President ever.”

Money doesn’t drive workers anymore. Employees want a say in workplace culture, activities, and benefits. And they want to work from home if at all possible.

Unions used to have to host covert gatherings to reach potential new members. No one has time to attend covert gatherings anymore.

Unions know this and actively organize on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok. A simple 20 second video can reach thousands of people instantly.

Micro-units are here. Electronic signatures on union authorization cards are valid. Card check is imminent.

Union organizing at small and medium size businesses will happen without the employer ever knowing.


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