Strikes are Making a Comeback in the US
September 17, 2023
By Nathaniel Meyersohn, CNN
In recent months, strikes have been on the rise in the United States, with workers from various industries demanding higher pay, improved benefits, and better working conditions. From Hollywood writers to nurses, factory workers, and Starbucks baristas, thousands of workers have walked off the job to make their voices heard.
The most recent example is the United Auto Workers strike, which is part of a growing movement of US workers standing up for their rights. The Teamsters union also used the threat of a strike to secure most of their demands for 340,000 members at UPS, including pay raises and improved working conditions.
This increase in labor action is a response to decades of stagnant wages for lower and middle-income workers, while the wealthiest Americans have seen their wealth reach unprecedented levels. Corporate profits have soared since the pandemic, and workers are now demanding a fair share of the profits.
Joseph McCartin, a labor historian at Georgetown University, believes that there is a generational change taking place in the labor movement. He explains that workers and unions now feel they have more leverage due to a tight labor market and the strongest public support for unions in decades.
According to the Economic Policy Institute, between 1979 and 2022, the annual wages of the top 1% of workers increased by 145%, while the wages of the bottom 90% only rose by 16%. This growing wage gap can be attributed to factors such as deregulation, the decline of unions, and minimal increases in the federal minimum wage.
One example of workers targeting executive compensation is seen in the auto industry. Auto workers are demanding higher wages in response to the significant growth in CEO compensation at Ford, General Motors, and Stellantis over the past four years.
With a strong labor market and a favorable economic climate, workers and unions feel more empowered to fight for their rights. This changing landscape is providing an opportunity for workers to negotiate better terms and conditions.
The resurgence of strikes in the US marks a significant shift in the labor movement. Workers across various industries are no longer willing to accept low wages and poor working conditions, and they are demanding their fair share of the economic prosperity.
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