Gen Z is the most supportive generation of workers rights and labor organizing. After over a year of unsuccessful contract negotiations between faculty members of Rutgers University and the institution, about 9,000 workers went on strike. It is the first time in the history of the New Jersey university that there has been a strike.
The recent outcry from workers is only a part of a bigger issue at hand, which is living wage and labor laws. Companies like Starbucks and Amazon have also been at the forefront of being held accountable by their employees in regards to better pay as well as proper treatment of workers, according to NPR.
Based on a poll, the approval for labor unions was highest among Gen Z at 64%. In comparison, only 57% of Baby Boomer era workers are in favor of unions.
In the United States, the amount of workers who are also union members is at a historic low. According to data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2022, just 10% of Americans reported themselves as union members, which is half of the 20% originally reported in 1983, when the Department of Labor began tracking union data.
Labor unions are generally favored by workers because there is a consistent increase in pay as well as advocacy for workers rights and benefits. Because the Rutgers University faculty members and union aren’t being heard, they have to go on strike in order to receive a living wage.
“The administration doesn't understand that we are determined to fight together for equal pay for equal work, a living wage for all, real job security, race and gender equity, and a fair salary increase. We have no other choice than to go on strike to build a university that truly values its workers and its students,” the Rutgers union expressed.
Rutgers President Jonathan Holloway responded in an email statement, “To say that this is deeply disappointing would be an understatement, especially given that just two days ago, both sides agreed in good faith to the appointment of a mediator to help us reach agreements.”
New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has called for negotiations between the university and union bargaining committees in his office.
Rutgers University is one of the nation’s premier institutions of higher learning. I am calling the University and union bargaining committees to meet in my office tomorrow to have a productive dialogue. pic.twitter.com/KTDmpm3LKD
— Governor Phil Murphy (@GovMurphy) April 10, 2023
Regardless of the outcome, it is clear that Gen Z is the most involved and engaged generation of workers in our country and it is only a matter of time before labor unions become more prominent in the workforce.