Unions look for momentum as more workers get fed up

Labor organizing efforts pick up in some sectors, but some workers prefer to go it alone when presenting demands to the boss.


By David Roeder, Chicago Sun-Times

Jan 10, 2022


Scores of job titles are in demand these days due to the labor shortage. To that long list, you might add the job of union organizer — troublemaker in the eyes of many employers.


The American workplace is restless. With labor at a premium, staffers are getting more assertive than they’ve been in decades. Unionized workers at Nabisco, Deere, Kellogg and Sysco were among those who struck last year to get better deals. Staffers at other places, such as Starbucks, are trying to organize unions.


One such effort that’s garnered attention here involves the Art Institute of Chicago. The National Labor Relations Board is expected this week to tally mailed-in ballots that will decide if about 600 workers at the museum and its school will join a union.


Still other places have less formal campaigns going on, their workers pressing demands on key issues without direct union involvement. These efforts take advantage of federal law barring employer retaliation against workers involved in “concerted activity,” coordinated behavior that calls attention to job-related issues.


Amazon workers have been doing this, but the company’s size makes it tempting for unions, too. The Teamsters have publicly identified...