Apr 14, 2022 - News

D.C.’s growing labor movement

Illustration of the Lincoln Memorial with a raised fist.

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

The new nationwide labor movement that’s led workers from large companies such as Amazon and Starbucks to historic union victories has hit Washington, too.

Why it matters: The pandemic reshaped our relationships with work and highlighted existing inequalities in every area of our society. Those shifts, paired with the tight labor market, empowered workers, pushing some to advocate for better working conditions and pay.

What they're saying: “We are absolutely feeling the momentum here in D.C.,” Metro Washington Labor Council president Dyana Forester said of the wave of union organizing in a statement to Axios. “Right now, we're seeing more local union members across the District stand up, speak out, and go on strike than ever before.”

What’s happening: Union Kitchen organizers say they’re anticipating union certification, but are waiting for the National Labor Relations Board to count challenged ballots.

Pro-union workers at the grocery store and food accelerator announced their unionization effort after management shared plans to increase hourly wages but eliminate the option to tip.

  • After voting last month, organizers announced an 18-11 vote in favor of unionization with 13 challenged ballots.
  • Union Kitchen management couldn’t be reached for comment.

Some northern Virginia Starbucks employees are also making moves to unionize. Workers at one Springfield Starbucks store are expected to vote this week on the union.

Politics & Prose in January became the District’s first unionized bookstore.

Zoom out: Established unions have also been active. Howard University Hospital nurses went on a one-day strike this week to push for better pay and staffing solutions as their union, the District of Columbia Nurses Association, continues contract negotiations.


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