And the sign said, long-haired freaky people need not apply. Signs, signs, everywhere there’s signs….

With due respect to the Five Man Electrical Band, which released the song “Signs” featuring the above lyrics in 1971, even long-haired freaky people can get jobs in the current labor market. We have thousands of jobs available.

Clearly, we have a worker shortage in the U.S. But is that worker shortage brought on by the “Great Resignation”? Maybe. Is it brought on by the fact that nearly a million Americans have died due to COVID? Maybe. Is it brought on by the fact that so many people have finally realized that they too have value and many employers across the country have been taking advantage of them? Maybe. 

Or maybe the answer is “all of the above.” 

But the fact is, with today’s worker shortage there has never been a better time for workers to flex their collective muscle. Workers are organizing into unions today at a higher rate than we have seen in decades. 

Workers at Starbucks’ corporate-owned stores, including in Arizona, have been organizing and have gained national attention. So have workers at REI’s sporting goods stores. 

In cannabis stores, hospitals, care facilities, Amazon warehouses — wherever workers are, there has been worker action. 

Right here in Tucson, workers at the Prep & Pastry restaurant have been working to organize. They have taken actions directed toward their boss, including striking for the day several times.

Last October, nearly 100,000 American workers either went on strike or prepared for one. Workers at Nabisco, Kellogg’s and even McDonald’s went on strike. Many of these workers were deemed essential by the public in 2020, but their employers regarded them 

replaceable until they took action. 

Union workers are still preparing for strikes across the country, and most likely they will be fighting for better working conditions in coming months as well — especially as long as they continue to have the leverage they possess.

Having a union gives workers a voice and the power to bargain directly with their bosses. And tens of thousands of workers are realizing that power today. 

Even when a contract isn’t up, unions have power to improve working conditions and pay. We saw it here, where many UFCW Local 99 employers agreed to increases in pay in order to attract new employees and retain long-term workers, too. 

When you are able to do that in the middle of a contract, that is real power. It shows how important workers are to the operation of the company. 

Workers are in the driver’s seat, and all the signs, signs on the road point to the future.