Henry: Unionizing works, especially amid a labor shortage

the+storefront+of+a+king+soopers+surrounded+by+snowy+trees

Collegian | Serena Bettis

Snow covers the ground in front of a King Soopers, a regional supermarket brand owned by Kroger, on a winter afternoon in Fort Collins, Colorado, Feb. 2, 2022.

Brendan Henry, Collegian Columnist

Editor’s Note: All opinion section content reflects the views of the individual author only and does not represent a stance taken by The Collegian or its editorial board.

Sometimes a person must stand up for what they feel is right. For some, it is a political ideology, and for others, it may be their religion. When wages were too low and expectations too high, King Soopers employees found themselves standing up for what they believed was the proper move forward.

Ad

For a little under two weeks in January, King Soopers employees went on strike, citing lack of proper wages, outsourcing of jobs and lack of protection in the workplace. This strike was supported by the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 7, a union that assisted these employees in coming to an agreement with the store.

Details on the results of the strike and negotiations between UFCW Local 7 and King Soopers are scarce, but it appears the strike paid off for members of the union.

Some may wonder why employees of grocery stores or fast-food restaurants should earn more money or get safer workspaces, and it really comes down to basic human rights. If someone is giving both their time and energy to a business, they absolutely deserve to be properly compensated and not have to worry about safety issues or how the business is run during the ongoing pandemic.

“The term ‘labor shortage’ is a false narrative coined by those in high corporate seats trying to cover up the reality of not paying enough. It throws a sheet over the issue of unlivable wages — we’re in a labor shortage because people want to be paid for their time.”

Unions are a powerful thing. They put pressure on businesses and corporations to do right by employees. A powerful history exists behind unions in America, and the King Soopers strike is one shining, recent example of how unions are able to better the lives of the working class.

Naturally, when power is given to the working class, conflict forms between workers and their employers. Companies are known to combat unionization, collectively spending around $340 million a year on “union avoidance,” according to the Economic Policy Institute. Why use that money to pay employees more when they could spend it on anti-union propaganda?

The government has failed to raise the minimum wage to accommodate for inflation, so maybe the future of proper wages lies in the hands of union members and unions themselves. If employees show they are unwilling to work highly demanding jobs for low wages, there may be more incentive for businesses to pay them more.

In an age when employers claim America is suffering from a labor shortage, maybe more people need to unionize and get the most out of their place of work. Businesses have been holding back for a while now, and it is about time they start issuing what is owed to employees for their work. There are plenty of unions in Colorado that encompass most working-class jobs and are certainly worth looking into.

The term “labor shortage” is a false narrative coined by those in high corporate seats trying to cover up the reality of not paying enough. It throws a sheet over the issue of unlivable wages — we’re in a labor shortage because people want to be paid for their time. If the term were to be used in a realistic sense, it would be called a “money shortage.”

Do not fall for anti-union propaganda. Look into a union that will look out for you like UFCW Local 7 did for the employees of King Soopers. If there is to be any advancement in wages and safety in the workplace, unions will likely be at the forefront.

Reach Brendan Henry at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter @BrendanHenryRMC.

Ad