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Labor unions notch big gains in 2022: report

UFCW wins 111 of 158 elections, more than doubling 2021 results

Organized labor had a big year in 2022, as unions won nearly 1,200, or 76%, of the elections that were held, according to a year-end report from Bloomberg Law.

The report found that the United Food and Commercial Workers union, which represents 835,000 grocery workers in the U.S. and Canada, more than doubled its victory count in 2022, winning 111 of its 158 elections. That compares with 51 victories in 74 elections in 2021.

The UFCW’s rate of 2022 election wins (70.3%) was higher than in any of the previous four years, according to the Bloomberg Law report, which contained data for individual unions dating back to 2018.

The UFCW also had 13 decertification elections, in which unions prevailed in maintaining union representation in five instances.

Meanwhile unions overall won a higher percentage of elections last year than in any year since 2005, when a decline in unionization trends took hold. A total of 75,290 workers joined unions in 2022, more than double the 36,934 new union members from 2021.

The number of workers who voted to join unions in each of the last five years, per the Bloomberg Law report:

  • 2022 — 75,290
  • 2021 — 36,934
  • 2020 — 35,243
  • 2019 — 49,444
  • 2018 — 52,556

“Unions are still racking up extremely high win rates, and they don’t seem to be stopping,” Bloomberg Law said in a blog post about the new report.

The retail industry overall had 157 union elections, and unions won 111 of those. (Note that the UFCW also represents workers in other industries, and not all of the retail elections involved the UFCW). Unions at wholesale companies, meanwhile, won 33 of the 50 union elections held in that industry in 2022.

The Service Employees International Union was the most active in 2022, winning 386 of 471 representation elections, followed by The Teamsters which won 145 of its 219 elections.

The rate of union victories overall also varied by region, with unions winning 83.6% of elections in New England at the high end and unions in the Midwest winning 64.9% of elections.

In states that have “right-to-work” laws, where it is considered more difficult for workers to organize, unions won 73.1% of their representation elections, while unions in non-right-to-work states won 77%.

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