Although there has been a steady decline of union membership over the past several decades, the COVID-19 pandemic has caused a shift in the dwindling numbers. Recently 500 employees of the health technology company One Medical revealed that they plan to unionize as a partial result of mistreatment during the pandemic.
Employees at One Medical identified various reasons for unionizing including mistreatment, mismanagement of early vaccine rollout, denied hazard pay to frontline workers, wrongfully fired employees, and providing less care to nonpaying members.
Many labor unions have formed during the pandemic and many hope to see President Biden fulfill his promise of being a pro-union president. The Bureau of Labor Statistics Data revealed that in 1983, 20.1% of employees were union members. These numbers dropped to 10.3% by 2019. American analytics company Gallup has estimated that 65% of Americans approve of Labor unions as of 2020.
Researchers at Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that in 2018 about 48% of nonunion workers would unionize if given the chance. This represented about half of the nonunion workforce.
The COVID-19 pandemic has shown light on the power of unions, illustrating that workers are better off as union members. The Economic Policy Institute stated that 94% of workers covered by union contracts are given employee sponsored health benefits unlike the 68% of nonunion workers. The institute also revealed that nine out of 10 union workers are given paid time off when sick as opposed to the 73% of nonunion workers.
Another benefit of unionizing is the pay as union workers typically make 11.2% more than nonunion workers. Union workers also have more say over their safety. Many workers were not given hazard pay despite being essential workers.
Employees at companies such as One Medical represent the need for unions as well as the growing trend of labor unions. As the pandemic continues to affect society, labor union membership will not likely dissipate anytime soon. The pandemic has proven that workers are stronger together and that unions help give employees power and a voice. They also give workers a chance to shine light on problematic areas of their workplace.