US unions see unusually promising moment amid wave of victories

Labor strategists hope wins will turn into a larger trend but acknowledge it won’t be easy as corporations fight fiercely against unionization

The recent, much-publicized wave of union victories in the US at companies as varied as the giant coffee chain Starbucks, trendy outdoor outfitters REI and media group the New York Times is spurring hopes that this will somehow turn into a much larger unionization wave that lifts millions of Americans.

This is an unusually promising moment for unions, labor strategists say, as they strain to figure out how best to build a larger wave, although they acknowledge it won’t be easy because US corporations fight so fiercely against unionization.

Union strategists are debating whether there are ways to transform the wins at Starbucks – workers at six Starbucks have voted to unionize so far – into a wave of unionization at McDonald’s and other fast-food companies, and whether the REI victory could be a springboard to victories elsewhere in retail, perhaps at Walmart or Whole Foods.

“We have a moment right now,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, the union that the REI workers voted to join. “I think that success breeds more success. When people see what’s happened at some Starbucks in Buffalo, they ask, ‘Why can’t we do that, too?’”

His union is campaigning hard to win a rerun union election at the Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, but labor experts say it’s much easier for unions to win at a Starbucks with 30 employees or an REI store with 100 than at an Amazon warehouse with perhaps 5,000 workers and management running an all-out, anti-union campaign.

Read more at the Guardian