Union staff at Augsburg University rally for change, highlighting a nationwide shift in the job industry

Augsburg University staff and supporters marched around campus to rally for policy changes that they said are long overdue.

“We’ve been bargaining for a year and it’s slow and frustrating,” Mike Bloomberg, an Augsburg staff union member, said.

Bloomberg is a librarian at Augsburg University.

“We still are making our voice heard and that’s what’s important,” he said.

The union is asking the university for cheaper healthcare and higher wages for staff members.

Bloomberg said the overall goal is to reduce turnover.

“I think that there are some factors that are favorable to workers right now,” Bloomberg said.

Minnesota headhunter Paul DeBettignies agrees.

“The amount of potential people for some roles is greatly reduced so demand for the people who are available has gone up,” he said.

DeBettingnies sees the trends of the job industry firsthand. He explained the workforce is not what it used to be.

“We’ve had some older folks who have retired a little bit earlier than they were planning on. We have less women in the workforce because many of them are staying at home taking care of kids and families,” he said. “We have people who are still opting out not to come back into the workforce yet.”

Economic Policy Institute data shows strike activity has increased since the start of the pandemic.

From Amazon to Starbucks, workers are voting to unionize.

DeBettignies said these recent trends paint the picture of the reality of the workforce: Workers have more leverage to make demands and businesses need employees to stick around.

“This is a time for the industry as a whole or employer to go, ‘What do we need to do in order to be able to accommodate what our workforce is looking for?’” DeBettignies said.

He added we’re entering a third year of this workforce change and it’s possible this could be a permanent shift.

He explained it depends on the economy and how businesses respond to this change in the job industry to determine what happens next.