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Monday’s business headlines

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — Here’s your Labor Day business report with Jane King.

For decades, union membership in the United States has been on the decline. Yet, in the last few months, workers have been organizing at a pace the country hasn’t seen since the Great Depression.

Amazon has captured headlines for union drives at its warehouses, including a successful effort on New York’s Staten Island.

More than 200 Starbucks stores have officially voted to unionize, according to the National Labor Relations Board, and first-ever unions have also formed at an Apple store in Maryland, a Google Fiber contractor, outdoor retailer REI, Trader Joe’s Kickstarter, and Activision Blizzard.

In July, Chipotle closed a Maine restaurant — workers say it was because they wanted to unionize, while Chipotle says it was due to a staffing shortage.

The pandemic and numerous other factors have collided to create what labor experts call a “perfect storm for organizing.”

TheU.S. has seen four decades of stagnant wages. Companies that already had healthy profits before the pandemic made even more money after lockdowns, and there are lots of jobs available without enough applicants to fill them. What’s more, the Biden administration is pro-union.

About two-thirds of Americans now say they support unions, the highest approval rating since 1965.

However, actual union participation remains at a multi-decade low, hovering at 10.3% of the workforce in 2021, down from 10.8% in 2020 and 20% in 1983, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. At its peak in 1954, union membership was close to 35%.

From October 2021 to June of this year, there was a 58% increase in official attempts to unionize, exceeding the total number of election petitions from the year before.

Workers in unions make on average 16.6% more than non-union workers, amounting to almost $200 per week.

However, economists say there are better ways to boost your pay, such as improving marketable skills and looking for better-paying jobs in the industry.

Whether the organizing momentum spreads more widely across the economy may depend on how vocal and successful workers are at Starbucks, Apple, and elsewhere.