Labor shortage leaves union workers feeling more emboldened

NORFOLK, Va. (AP) — When negotiations failed to produce a new contract at a Volvo plant in Virginia this spring, its 2,900 workers went on strike. The company soon dangled what looked like a tempting offer: Pay raises. Signing bonuses. Lower-priced health care. Yet the workers overwhelmingly rejected the proposal. And then a second one, too. Finally, they approved a third offer that provided even higher raises, plus lump-sum bonuses. For the union, it was a breakthrough that wouldn’t likely have happened as recently as last year — before the pandemic spawned a worker shortage that’s left some of America’s long-beleaguered union members feeling more confident this Labor Day than they have in years.