Texas isn’t usually known as a union-friendly state, but more and more employees are trying to change that – that’s why.

AUSTIN, Texas – A wave of workers calling for unions is filling the country, including Texas, but what is causing it?

According to federal data, just under 4% of workers here are union members.

Over the past year, we’ve seen two local Starbucks offices, Alamo Drafthouse and Integral Care employees, trying to merge into a union in Austin. The groups insist on things like better pay and safer working conditions.

So what causes this shift? Experts say there are many factors, including inflation, a rally for social justice and a hazardous work environment during the pandemic.

“One of them is what happened after COVID,” said Michael Z. Green, a professor of labor law at A&M University of Texas Law School. “Second, you have more support in the federal administration and the Biden administration. Then, thirdly, a new generation of workers who come to work and accept it as activists. “

Green said the influx of people moving to Texas also plays a role. He said, for example, California has more employee-focused laws.

“California is commonly known as a state where there are many more laws regarding worker protection,” Green said. “So, of course, if you have people migrating from states where they believe, where they’ve seen it in practice, it can affect their beliefs.”

Green said there is a misconception that people cannot unite in unions in Texas. You can, but it can be difficult.

Texas is a state with the right to work, which means an employee cannot be forced to join a union to work somewhere. Green said it complicates maintaining the union. He noted that in states with the right to work, unions must continue to support employees who do not pay dues, which in turn harms unions in those states.

Along with most states, Texas has an “optional” employment policy. This means that an employer can fire someone for any reason, with some exceptions, including being a union member.

Trying to unite in a union, Green said, could create a risk for employees.

“There has been a lot of evidence to suggest that when a union campaign begins, many of the leaders of those companies are really at risk of losing their jobs,” Green said.

These are risks to which Green said some local workers are willing to take it upon themselves to live comfortably.

We look forward to updated information on the trade union efforts of these businesses in Austin over the next few months.

On Tuesday, the US House of Representatives voted to recognize the right of House staff to unite after announcing an increase in their minimum wage.

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