Labor Day 2021, as it was last year, is going to be very different from previous celebrations. And while we might still be marking the end of summer with BBQs with our vaccinated friends and family, let’s share over the grill some of the good news that’s happening for working people!
Big wins in tech unionization. In a historic milestone for the tech industry, Glitch workers signed a collective bargaining agreement, as did Google and Mobilize. A survey of tech workers reveals that over 60% of millennials are interested in joining a union and about 50% of all workers are very or somewhat interested. The pandemic years have showcased just how important organizing and mobilizing are to protecting people’s health and wellbeing at work.
Minimum wage rose at the state level. Twenty states raised their minimum wages in response to worker organizing. But the federal minimum wage is still stuck at $7.25, unchanged for 12 years — the longest period in history! There is a long way to go to ensure a minimum wage that reflects the increased costs of our times. So Fight for $15!
Companies increased wages. McDonald’s, Chipotle, Target and other companies increased starting wages, some to above $15, and some have also increased benefits. While the suits say this is a response to a labor shortage, it is better understood as a response to the reality that people cannot live on poverty wages. Low-wage workers are finally beginning to reap the benefits of labor organizers’ years of hard work.
On this Labor Day, let’s remind ourselves: we can accomplish a lot when we work together. Our collective power can make the changes we envision for our present and our future. Especially when we allow young people to lead the way.