From today’s Washington Post:
Factory workers, nurses and school bus drivers are among the tens of thousands of Americans who walked off jobs in October amid a surge of labor activism that economists and labor leaders have dubbed “Striketober.”
The strike drives, experts say, stem from the new leverage workers hold in the nation’s tight job market: Having seen the massive profits their companies collected during the coronavirus pandemic, they want their contributions acknowledged in the form of better pay and working conditions.
While work stoppages may contribute to near-term inflation and production tie-ups, economists say they could fundamentally change the economic standing of millions of workers. Here’s what you need to know about the tide of recent strikes.
There are a number of reasons, but ultimately it comes down to how the pandemic has changed the way people see themselves, their employers and their jobs — especially if going to work heightened their risk of exposure to the deadly virus. So while millions of people quit or switched positions, others have staged walkouts — or at least are threatening to.
“People don’t want to go and die at work. I mean, they’re not compensated enough,” said Kim Cordova, president of the 23,000-member United Food and Commercial Workers in Colorado.
Strikes or strike authorizations — when a union supports a walkout if negotiations with management break down — typically revolve around compensation. At John Deere, where 10,000 workers at 14 factories walked off the job on Oct. 14, employees want better pay and retirement benefits. The company offered 5 to 6 percent raises in a new collective bargaining agreement, but workers say it’s not enough, given the company’s soaring profits.
Kaiser Permanente nurses and health workers in California and Oregon want the health care provider to drop a proposed two-tiered wage and benefits system that would compensate new employees less than existing ones. More than 30,000 workers represented by several unions authorized a strike in an Oct. 11 vote.
Read the complete story here.