Think labor unions are a thing of the past? Think again, the labor movement has been rebranded and reborn. Many in our new generation of workers romanticize the notion of collective bargaining, while the generation of newly ascending C-suite leaders has little to no recollection of labor movements past (for better or worse). It’s a recipe of contrasts, as organizers are getting smarter and rethinking the value proposition of being “represented.” A contingent workforce that initially valued flexibility now seeks the security of medical benefits, job protections and a weekly paycheck. Many organizational leaders, unaware of how labor unions can impact day-to-day business and culture, often miss the symptoms of a vulnerable/susceptible workforce. And many younger workers, with limited firsthand knowledge of union environments, are inclined to believe that unions can help them and believe that the union movement is a social justice movement.
According to the Center for Economic and Policy Research, the majority of all new union members are [35 or younger](http://cepr.net/press-center/press-releases/new-union-members-are-increasingly-under-35). As mentioned, many have very limited firsthand knowledge of union environments, yet they are inclined to believe that unions can help them. A study by the Department for Professional Employees of the AFL-CIO revealed that young professionals, more than their older cohorts, seek work-life balance, opportunities to advance and harmonious workplaces. They often find the concept of collective bargaining attractive as a way of elevating and codifying ideals like social justice and equality in the workplace.
A Glassdoor/Harris Poll [survey](https://www.glassdoor.com/blog/corporate-social-responsibility/) revealed that 75% of millennials expect their employers to take a stand on important social issues, advocating for topics they care about. This call to action is a present-day take on being represented — companies have a unique opportunity to leverage the voices of a workforce unified in calling for fair labor practices and social justice.
Workplaces have largely forgotten what inspired organizing drives in the past and have increasingly taken their eye off the ball. Historically, an organizing drive often suggested that something about your culture had failed. Lack of attention to income disparities, blurred lines around nonexempt guidelines, unclear reasoning around who got promoted — all contributed to making an organization susceptible. These things may still make organizations vulnerable today. Add social justice causes and the inclusion of the phrase and reality, “perception is reality” and the union movement has been reborn and rebranded.