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Tom’s Takes: A Look Back at 2022 Labor and Predictions for 2023

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The year 2022 was a resurgent year for labor and the many unions that represent nearly 12 percent of the U.S. workforce, per Gallup’s 2021-22 Work and Education Surveys. Poll data also revealed that 71 percent of Americans approve of labor unions, up from 68 percent in 2021, which is the highest percentage since 1965.

Here is a look back at some of the key labor union-related events that appeared in the news media in 2022:

  • March 2022 – Amazon’s Bessemer, AL, facility rejected union representation for a second time. 
  • April 2022 – Amazon’s Staten Island, NY facility approved union representation by the Amazon Labor Union (ALU), thereby becoming the first unionized Amazon distribution center in the United States. Amazon appealed the results to the National Labor Relations Board.
  • May 2022 – West Coast port workers represented by the International Longshoreman and Warehousing Union (IWLU) began negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Authority (PMA) regarding their contract that expired on June 30, 2022.
  • June 2022 – The Supreme Court failed to hear the appeal on behalf of the California Trucking Association regarding California Assembly Bill 5, and their change in employment status from Independent Truckers to full-time employees.
  • September 2022 – The NLRB rejected Amazon’s appeal of the Staten Island union vote. 
  • September 2022 – The International Brotherhood of Teamsters formed a new division focusing on unionizing Amazon employees.
  • October 2022 – Amazon’s Albany, NY facility rejected representation by the newly formed ALU.  
  • November 2022 – Starbucks employees hold a one-day walkout at over 100 U.S.-based stores
  • December 2022 – Approximately 1,000 Starbucks baristas strike for three days in mid-December at 100 stores across the US. Nearly 300 out of 9,000 company-run U.S. stores have unionized over the past 12 months.
  • December 2022 – President Biden signed legislation blocking a national rail strike. Eight of the 12 railroad unions had approved a contract with four holdouts. Approved pay raises of 24 percent over a 5-year period from 2020 to 2024. The railroad unions were demanding 15 days of paid sick leave as part of the contract, but that was not included in the legislation.
  • December 2022 – The IWLU and PMA contract negotiations regarding west coast ports continue with a deal expected in the spring of 2023. Cargo unloading has dropped over 25 percent over the past few months at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach due to shifting offloads to East Coast ports, such as New York and Savannah.

Tom’s Take: “The U.S. supply chain has a heavy reliance upon human labor to unload ships, transport goods via rail or truck, store them in warehouses and ultimately end up in the hands of the consumers via retail stores or e-commerce sites and their last mile partners. With U.S. annual inflation at 7.1 percent as of November 2022, supply chain workers will continue to seek ways to increase their pay and benefits, with unionization efforts as part of their strategies to improve their work-life balance.”

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