In today’s news & commentary, labor market gains remain uneven across sectors and subgroups, and Apple Store employees in Maryland organize ahead of a June 15th union election.
On June 6, Axios reported that the pandemic has significantly changed the composition of the U.S. labor market. Although “roughly 96% of jobs lost during the pandemic are back,” job gains have not been distributed evenly across employment sectors. Most strikingly, “[t]he private sector has recovered 99% of all jobs lost, but [the] public sector has regained just 58%.” This trend that may be explained by the public sector’s relative rigidity to adjusting wages and the increasing demand for remote work. Within the private sector, booming spending on consumer goods has also driven uneven labor market recovery. Industries like transportation and warehousing have seen historic job gains. By contrast, the leisure and hospitality sector remains 1.3 million jobs short of its pre-pandemic employment rate.
Las Vegas members of the Culinary Workers Union (CWU) are organizing in response to changing labor market conditions that adversely affect hospitality sector workers. The union argues that although the city’s employment rate has fallen from its pandemic high of 30% to 5%, hospitality workers are still struggling. That’s because employers are calling formerly laid off workers in on short shifts to save money even as business booms—a practice that is not reflected in the city’s unemployment rate. James Loreto, a server at the Mandalay Bay hotel and CWU member, explained that “while he is officially back at work. . . . Some weeks he works two days, sometimes five.” The Union is pushing to improve conditions for Las Vegas hospitality workers through contract negotiations and political organizing.
In other labor market news, CNBC reported that nearly 400,000 women entered the labor force in May. As a result, the women’s labor market participation rate reached 58.3%. That’s “just one percentage point below their pre-pandemic labor force participation rate.” The increase in female job seekers—driven by Black, Latina, and Asian women—also led to an increase in unemployment rates among those groups, due to “an increase in the number of women actively seeking work.”
Finally, the Guardian reported that Apple Store employees in Towson, Maryland will hold an in-person union election on June 15. The Maryland tech workers filed for the election with the NLRB as the Coalition of Organized Retail Employees (AppleCore) with assistance from the International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAM). Apple Store employees have also organized in Atlanta, New York City, and Louisville. However, the Atlanta employees pulled their union election last week, citing “Apple’s aggressive anti-union campaign launched in response to it.” If successful, the Maryland workers would be the first Apple Store in the country to unionize.