News & Commentary

January 24, 2024

Linh Tang

Linh is a student at Harvard Law School.

According to newly released data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union membership in the U.S. reached a record low in 2023, dropping to 10%, slightly below the 2022 rate of 10.1%, despite notable successes in negotiations with large corporations like United Postal Services and automakers. The decline reflects a disparity between strong public support for unions and their actual membership growth. Notably, over half a million people participated in strikes last year, resulting in significant benefits for auto workers and Hollywood writers

While reflecting on this paradox of increased union popularity and decreased membership, check out this creative video essay from the New York Times, in which comedian and visual journalist Jeff Seal advocates for the broader adoption of Minimum Standards Council, a labor industry tool, to enhance the labor movement and empower workers. 

Southwest Airlines Co.’s flight attendants’ union, representing about 21,000 members, voted with over 98% approval to grant leaders the authority to call a strike if talks in federal mediation fail. The vote, in accordance with the Railway Labor Act, allows for a potential walkout after a multiphase process outlined by the National Mediation Board. This move follows similar authorizations by unions representing Southwest’s pilots and American Airlines Group Inc.’s flight attendants.

The Cheesecake Factory Restaurants Inc. and two janitorial contractors have agreed to a $1 million settlement following a California Labor Commissioner’s Office investigation for underpaying 589 janitorial workers. The investigation began in December 2016 after several complaints of possible wage and hour violations of janitors who cleaned Cheesecake Factory restaurants in San Diego County. The settlement, announced yesterday, addresses wage and hour violations, and as a result, Cheesecake Factory and contractors must adhere to strengthened California laws, closing subcontracting loopholes. Alongside financial compensation, the settlement requires the Cheesecake Factory to audit contractors and train managers for legal compliance.

Enjoy OnLabor’s fresh takes on the day’s labor news, right in your inbox.