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Crunch The Cost: Will labor unions become more popular in the future?

More employees have been striking at some of the biggest companies in the world, but what does it mean for the future of the workforce?

TEXAS, USA — In Texas' history, the state hasn't always been known as a 'union friendly' state, but recent controversy and strikes from workers about equality has challenged past sentiments about labor unions.

According to a 2022 U.S Bureau report, the amount of union workers in the state of Texas is under four percent. However, with more strikes happening, labor unions are re-entering the conversation.

"The new generation of workers who are coming and taking this on as activists themselves," said Micheal Z. Green, a law professor at Texas A&M University.

In the past few months, railroad workers have reignited labor negotiations across the United States, even catching the attention of major government officials like President Joe Biden. 

No company has been exempt, with the effects affecting small local businesses to world-renowned brands like Starbucks and Google. A significant number of employees working for the corporation giants are calling for better pay, better working conditions, and a proper work life balance. 

As many people work to juggle life post COVID-19, a labor union expert for MIT, Nathan Wilmers, explained how the trend has been intensifying. 

"There's a really tight labor market where for the first time in a long time, employers are really competing with each other to try to attract and attain workers," said Wilmers.

Wilmers researches who studies the wage effects of labor union activism and the economic impact of strikes, like unemployment rates.

According to Wilmers, restaurants, food service, hospitality, and medical support type jobs are among the hardest hit sectors of the workforce. Additionally, as employers still struggle to fill staff shortages, he says more people are exploring the benefits of a labor union and what they can do to make an impact on their workplace.

"More respect on the job, to ask for better working conditions in general," said Wilmers. "Some of that has been expressed in workers quitting at a higher rate."

But only time will tell, according to Wilmers.

As uncertainty continues to grow amongst many Americans about the future, what he says can be agreed on is people just wanting equal treatment at work. 

"We're living for every day, everyday, we just pray and hope for the best every single day," said Amber Robertson, a Bryan native.

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