Skip to Content



What CEOs need to know about organized labor

November 30, 2021 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated December 08, 2021 16:07 PM UTC

How both corporate and union leaders evolve to meet the demands of the modern workplace.

the Bureau of Labor shows that the percentage of unionized workers in the US today at least in in 2020 is about 10.88% half of what it was in the early eighties, so that approval rating does not necessarily mean that we have more people than before represented by unions. So I think my first question to both of you is just help us unpack that and what's going on and I know there are so many different factors involved here but Roy I want to go to you first and then hear from you mary Kay help us understand what is going on. What are the important things we need to know about those trends? Points well for me this was, I didn't start out in VC thinking that I'd be sitting on a stage talking about organized labor but we did start investing in the future work. And the first realization that I had is that some major change is inevitable and I now think that much more organized labor is inevitable. And by the way the stat Is the number is even higher among young people. If you're under 34, of people under 34 approve of labor unions. There are 333 strikes happening in the country today right now. And my simple version of this is too many people just feel like they can't win. You can use words like inequality, you can use words whatever word you want to use millions and millions of people think they can't win. They want to change and sometimes they act out at the ballot box. Sometimes they organized. In fact, in a session earlier today. Um, somebody from one of the companies represented said, you know when the pandemic hit, our employees are engineers got together and self organized and they said once a month, they decided not to come into work for a day because they needed a break. I was like, okay. But if they were bus drivers, we would call that a strike and by the way, if they were unionized, they'd be protected by law like the two million members in mary Kay's union and we can talk about why the union membership rates are where they are. I think that's a different topic. But to me, the headline is, this is inevitable Mary Kay, What's, what's your assessment of what we're seeing acting out in front of us here, especially in the bay area? Well, the 10% number of workers who currently have access to collective bargaining is because of a 40 year attack on unions. Um, and because the workforce has changed dramatically, but our laws haven't kept up with it. So 46% of the current workforce has no legal right to organize because of their status and the tech sector has helped catalyze the disruption in the way uh, work used to work and our systems haven't caught up with a way for workers to be able to join together. Uh, and I think the explosion of public opinion has a lot to do with what uh, the public has witnessed of essential workers who didn't get to stay at home, but showed up every day, bagging our groceries, delivering our goods, caring for our elders, in nursing homes and in hospitals and in home care. And I think there was a level of shock in understanding the degree to which nearly half of the service workforce in the country has no paid sick time as a minor example of the indignity, so that when we were told to quarantine for two weeks, most workers had to choose to either work sick and not say what their infection status was or to lose their jobs.