Economics in Brief: The Worker Unionization Wave Continues

Also, the economic fallout of the abortion ruling will be felt for generations to come.

(Photo by Trac Vu on Unsplash)

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Workers Unionizing Around the Country

The headlines about worker unionization at major global corporations across tech, retail and service industries just keep coming.

In Campbellsville, Kentucky, an Amazon employee Matt Littrell is one of several workers leading an organizing drive at the Amazon fulfillment center where he works as a picker, Jacobin reports. Littrell said he’s hoping a union could push Amazon to address issues like excessive heat, brutal productivity quotas and missed sign-on bonuses.

Employees at the Apple store in Towson, Maryland voted 65-33 to become the first unionized Apple retail workers, Wired reports. But as the AP notes, serious hurdles remain in the vote certification and contract bargaining process.

A wave of Starbucks employees, too, are organizing to take advantage of the collective bargaining power that comes with unionization. More Perfect Union’s tracker maps out these ongoing unionization efforts; as of this week, workers at 306 stores in 35 states have filed to unionize. 182 Starbucks stores have won their union election.

What Economic Repercussions Will We See from the Abortion Rights Ruling?

Speaking of Starbucks, it’s one among a slew of major U.S. companies that have reportedly responded to the loss of federal abortion rights protections by offering to pay for employees’ travel expenses to obtain an abortion. Some Starbucks employees, though, say the company has been unclear about whether the benefit would be available to staff at unionized sites, as Bon Appetit reports.

Critics say these gestures of solidarity are empty, pointing to many of these companies’ own history of political spending on candidates and groups that “enabled” anti-abortion lawsuits. For many of these companies, these benefits are also limited to employees who are already getting health insurance from the company. “This is all voluntary, a benefit that can be given and taken away, or not offered at all,” Helaine Olen underscored in a Washington Post column. “And it’s worth noting that this benefit is being offered at a time of extremely low unemployment when companies are aggressively bidding for workers. It may not last when labor demand falls again.”

The decision to overturn Roe v. Wade will not only mean less access to abortion but also changes the economic future for generations of Americans, particularly people of color and low-income women, Marketplace reports. People who are denied abortions had higher rates of poverty, unemployment and reliance on government assistance, according to CNN — and as result, their children’s futures and financial stability are also impacted.

“We’re talking about disruptions to people’s careers that have long-run effects throughout their entire careers,” economist Jason Lindo, who has researched how abortion access affects educational attainment, told Marketplace. “We also need to think about the children who are growing up in the households with these people who have more impaired access to abortion…the economic effects are actually likely to extend into the next generation as well.”

A fact sheet from the Washington Center on Equitable Growth offers more resources to understand this economic fallout.

How Black Women Found Economic Mobility Through Fried Chicken

Check out Eater’s latest essay in its “United States of Fried Chicken” series and sink your teeth in this meaty feature. For over a century, food has offered Black women in America a means of achieving social and economic mobility.

“Enslaved Black women were considered to be experts in preparing everything now thought to be Southern food, including fried chicken,” Debra Freeman writes. “After the Civil War, they understood their freedom meant they could fully grasp some agency over their lives all while creating and sustaining economic freedom for themselves through their culinary talents.” It’s a legacy that continues today across the country, especially in Virginia.

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Shania DeGroot is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2022.

Tags: unionsamazonabortion access

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