Sep 8, 2022 - Business

Local unions having "a moment"

Illustration of fists getting longer like an upward trending bar chart.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Fresh off a successful union drive at a downtown Starbucks and the recent gains made by the high-profile Columbus teachers' strike, local employees in at least a half-dozen other workplaces are striving toward unionization.

State of play: When Worthington Libraries staffers voted last year to unionize, Grandview Heights library employees took notice and sought to organize themselves.

Why it matters: There's evidence of a burgeoning local labor movement as a growing number of employees seek better working conditions.

What they're saying: "It certainly seems like Columbus is having a moment right now," Melissa Cropper, president of the Ohio Federation of Teachers, tells Axios.

The big picture: A statewide loss of manufacturing jobs drove a decline in union membership, falling to just 12% of Ohioans in 2021 down from 21% three decades ago.

  • But union participation is now expanding to workplaces not traditionally known for collective organizing, such as nonprofits and chain restaurants.
  • Cropper says the pandemic awakened Ohioans to prioritize needs like paid sick leave and a healthy work-life balance.
  • One organizing effort can start a domino effect among similar workplaces, she says.

Elsewhere, Columbus freelance media workers are planning their own union drive.

  • And more than half of all minor league baseball players have signed union authorization cards, per ESPN, which could impact pay and other benefits for Columbus Clippers players.
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