New Generation of Workers Require New Approaches to Union Recruitment

New Generation of Workers Require New Approaches to Union Recruitment

With more Americans than ever supporting unions and more employees expressing interest in joining one, it’s a prime time to explore the best ways to attract the next generation of workers to grow union membership. After all, increasing membership leads to stronger unions, stable finances, and greater collective bargaining power.

According to the AFL-CIO, “71% of Americans support unions. The highest level in nearly 60 years. And our future is bright: 88% of people younger than 30 support unions, too.” These same statistics are being repeated by numerous sources, but there is a disconnect. Union membership growth is stagnant. A contributing factor may be how the recruitment of younger workers is approached.

In general, newer generations of workers:

  • Have different priorities and values. New generations of workers place a priority on work-life balance, respect, having a voice, valuing diversity, taking care of the planet, and making a difference. They also place a lot of value on benefits that can help them today – like higher pay, student loan reimbursements, time off, and childcare.
  • Learn differently and move fast. They never knew a world without the Internet or hand-held devices. Because they grew up as digital natives, they are quick to learn, adapt, and act.
  • Communicate and network differently. Their online identities and networks started in grammar and middle school. They meet, socialize, learn, date, work, find friends and roommates, play, and connect online.

All of this came into play during the grassroots unionization efforts at Starbucks, which apparently started with conversations among local employees who reached out to the local branch of a union to learn more. When their efforts became public, employees at other locations reached out for information. Through social media and digital meeting platforms, experiences were readily shared. While the story continues to unfold, it holds some valuable insights into how to engage the newest generation of workers and grow union memberships.

First, make sure newer generations know what a union is, why it exists and what it can do for them. Explore building membership pipelines by presenting at a high school or tech school’s career day or having a table at a local college’s career fair. Host a multi-generational event to build on the goodwill toward unions that exists today while having an opportunity to explain the role and value of a union. You never know when having that knowledge can inspire a young worker to act.

Second, have an online presence where people can easily find your organization, learn what it stands for, who it represents, and more information. Even better, use an online form to collect contact information from interested parties so a current union member can reach out to them directly.  If you don’t have a local website presence, use social media channels to post about meetings, celebrations, recognition, accomplishments, and events to provide insights that prompt potential members to take the next step.

And third, be prepared to help them get started – fast. Some unions have online training sessions that educate about the unionization process. Others have direct links to information on what unionizing entails.

Along the way, be sure to highlight the many benefits of unions, including the ability to deduct dues from New York state taxes on itemized returns; higher wages; better benefits; scheduling flexibility; paid time off; safer workplaces, and more.

As you focus on building your union’s membership, you can count on RBT CPAs to handle your accounting, tax, audit, and advisory needs. We have been serving organizations and individuals in the Hudson Valley for more than 55 years and show time after time how RBT CPAs and our clients can be Remarkably Better Together. For more information, give us a call.


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