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Millennials and immigrants buck national trend for driving labor union strength on Long Island

Quang Nguyen Vinh

Long Island union membership rates have risen a full percent since 2019, according to a report released by Hofstra University

Gregory DeFreitas, an economics professor who authored the study, said more than 25% of Long Island's employed residents are in unions. He said that could be due to recent high-profile organizing on Long Island — like Starbucks and Amazon.

“I've really seen over the last 20 plus years, a dramatic change in the union movement and the nonunion worker centers on Long Island,” DeFreitas said. “And in general, there's been a big uptick in activity. There's been more Millennials and even some Gen Z folks getting involved with unions.”

Long Island unions now represent a higher number of employees than their New York City counterparts. Long Island women are more likely than New York City women or men to be in a union.

“Unions are holding their own in many places, especially on Long Island where now a higher fraction of workers, nearly 27%, are in unions compared to the city around 21%,” DeFreitas said. “But the city actually lost union members.”

DeFreitas said Long Island’s unemployment rate was less impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic than New York City’s, which may impact the union rates.

The full report will be available here on Labor Day.

Molly is a reporter covering Connecticut. She also produces Long Story Short, a podcast exploring public policy issues across Connecticut.