Today’s young workers have been called the most pro-union generation since the Great Depression and for good reason. Workers under the age of 40 are a generation defined by economic and global uncertainty. Their formative years were shaped by 9/11 and the war on terror. As they entered the workforce, the Great Recession hit. And just as they were starting to regain their footing, the world was gripped by a pandemic.
To make matters worse, America’s young workers have witnessed ballooning wealth inequality, the stagnation of wages and salaries, the slashing of public services, the explosion of housing costs, and the rise of the “gig economy.”
A recent poll conducted by the pro-union LaborLab found that about half of workers under the age of 40 want to start a union in their workplace. Those numbers track closely with similar national polls that have been conducted over recent years, which also showed skyrocketing support for unions among members of the public. However, what made the LaborLab poll so interesting was that they asked a couple of critically important follow-up questions in their research:
How many workers are aware of their right to start a union under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)? Answer: very, very few.
However, after hearing a summary of their right to start or support a union, did workers feel more empowered to support a union in their workplace? Answer: Yes. In fact, a whopping 56% of workers felt more empowered to support a union in their workplace after learning about their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Considering that workers under the age of 40 are now the largest segment of the U.S. workforce, 56% is a huge number that pencils out to about 32 million workers. That’s almost three times the number of workers currently in unions.
Following this research, LaborLab launchedLaborLab.us in an attempt to make labor rights and law as simple and accessible as possible. Unlike similar pro-union organizations, LaborLab’s mission is laser focused on informing young workers about their legal rights to join or start a union, providing basic information on starting a union, and connecting empowered workers with union organizers.
“Over the years, we’ve noticed a big hurdle for worker empowerment,” says LaborLab founder Bob Funk. “That hurdle is a lack of information, which translates into a lack of empowerment. All workers deserve to know their basic rights to start and support unions. When workers have a base-level understanding of our rights under U.S. law, it’s considerably easier to effectively organize workplaces.”
LaborLab is using a broad set of high-level tools to effectively and efficiently reach young workers who are interested in unions but lack even the most basic understanding of current labor law.
According to LaborLab.us, “Your right to unionize is protected by U.S. Federal Law. Unfortunately, many employers and their high-paid lawyers take advantage of the fact that most Americans aren’t familiar with their rights under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA)… the NLRA is not that complicated and a simple understanding of the law and the rights it ensures for working Americans can make a huge difference in whether or not you are successful in starting a union.”
“There are so many great organizations out there that train and prepare empowered workers to organize their workplaces,” says Funk. “What we’ve been missing are organizations that empower workers in the first place. What we’ve found in our research is that a great place to start is by simply sharing the basic information. That’s what this organization is committed to doing.”