FREDERICK, Md. (DC NEWS NOW) — Labor Day is a time to reflect on how the nation’s workforce is getting along, and studies are showing that the demand for workers is giving them power in the workplace to demand higher wages and better working conditions.

Companies like Starbucks are challenged by baristas who want healthcare and education benefits and are prepared to organize a union to force their demands on management.

“It’s a pretty competitive job market. I’m happy with my job right now. There’s a lot of people moving around, looking at different jobs. That gives people the ability to work with their employer to make a fair deal and get paid for what they think is fair,” said Zack Buono, a biomedical engineer.

Some large employers like Wal-Mart, with a nationwide workforce of 1.7 million, say they have discouraged unions by offering profit-sharing and a management track to eligible employees.