“Strike tober” shows the growing power of workers, but does it lead to lasting change? | US trade unions

US trade unions have been defensive for decades, but in October of this year, workers’ fighting and strikes exploded as workers continued to attack to demand more. Did. Experts predict that more action will take place in the future, but it remains an open question whether “Striketober” will lead to permanent change.

The scale of industrial activity is truly amazing. 10,000 John Deere Workers went on strike, 1,400 Kellogg workers All strikes not only went out, but threatened by more than 30,000 Kaiser Permanente workers Serious disconnection Between labor and management.

Many front-line workers say they work hard during a pandemic, endanger their lives, and then deserve a significant salary increase with a lot of gratitude. With this in mind, with countless employers complaining of labor shortages, many workers believe it’s a good time to demand more and strike. There is a strong parent union president in the White House, and being there is not harmful. Public support for more than decades of unions..

However, some companies are acting as if nothing has changed, following decades of American corporate practice of oppressing workers and demanding concessions, even after a surge in corporate profits. You can continue.

This attitude is incompatible with Chris Rosen, who earns $ 20.82 an hour 19 years later at Deer’s farm equipment factory in Otamua, Iowa. Laursen is angry that Deere is offering a $ 1 hourly salary increase and expects Deere to more than double last year’s profits to a record $ 5.7 billion. But I want to abolish the pension for future employment.

“We were considered essential workers just outside the gate,” Laursen said, saying that many workers accumulated a lot of overtime during the pandemic. “But they brought a terribly low offer. It was a slap in the face of the workers who produced all the wealth for them.”

Many Deer workers complain that the company offered only a 12% salary increase over six years. They say this isn’t keeping up with inflation, even if the CEO’s salary goes up. Last year 160% at $ 16 million The dividend has been raised by 17%. Deere workers voted 90% against the company’s offer before the strike at 14 factories on October 14, the first strike in 35 years.

“We really appeared during the pandemic and continued to build equipment for them,” Rosen said. “Now we want to get something back. Finally, the stars lined up and we had to fight.”

Thomas Kochan, a professor of labor relations at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, agreed that it was a good time for workers. Many companies are raising wages significantly in response to labor shortages. “It’s clear that workers are much more empowered,” he said. “They are empowered because of a labor shortage.”

“These strikes can easily trigger more strike activity if some are successful or perceived as successful,” Kochan added.

Robert Bruno, a professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois, said workers had accumulated a lot of dissatisfaction and anger after years of slight improvements in wages and profits during the pandemic. Bruno pointed out the main reasons for the growing frustration of workers: Arrogance can be set where companies think it will last forever, and they probably aren’t reading the time correctly. “

This week, Kellogg’s 15-year-old employee, Keisha Richardson, is waving at the ringing car as she passes the picket line outside the cereal maker’s headquarters in Battle Creek, Michigan. Photo: Emily Erconin / Reuters

Kevin Bradshaw, a striker at Kellogg’s factory in Memphis, said grain makers don’t want to be arrogant. During the pandemic, Kellogg’s employees often worked for 30 consecutive days, often with shifts of 12 or 16 hours, he said.

In the light of this hard work, he condemned Kellogg’s contract proposal. It requires a much smaller scale for new hires. “Kellogg is offering new workers a $ 13 reduction in maximum wages,” Bradshaw said. “They want a permanent two-tier. New employees won’t get the same amount and benefits as we do,” he said, which is bad for the next generation of workers. ..

Bradshaw, vice president of the local bakery, confectionery, tobacco worker and grain mirrors union, said he made a painful concession to Kellogg in 2015. .. “This is a real slap on the face during a pandemic. Everyone knows that they are greedy and not in need.”

Kellogg’s Rewards are one of the best in the industry And that offer helps the company address its competitive challenges. Deer said it was decided to reach an agreement And we will continue to make the worker “the most paid employee in the agricultural industry”.

There are many strikes besides Deer and Kellogg. More than 400 workers at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Distillery in Kentucky have been on strike for six weeks, and approximately 1,000 Warriormet coal mine workers in Alabama have been on strike since April. Hundreds of nurses at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo went on strike on October 1, and 450 steel workers at Special Metals in Huntington, West Virginia also went out that day. More than 30,000 nurses and other medical professionals from Kaiser Permanente on the West Coast voted to approve the strike.

Last Monday, 60,000 Hollywood production employees threatened to strike and complained that movie and television companies weren’t seriously concerned about overwork and malaise. However, seeing the union take its first strike seriously, Hollywood producers flirted and agreed to compromise, and both sides reached a reconciliation.

Noting that Kaiser Permanente, a non-profit organization, has raised $ 45 billion in reserves, Kaiser Nurse Belinda Reading of Woodland Hills, California said: We have been working on an extra shift. Our life has turned upside down. Signs were everywhere, saying, “Heroes work here.” And the pandemic isn’t even over for us, and it’s almost a slap for them to give us a 1% raise. “

Reading is also smoking that management is proposing to hire new nurses at 26% less wages than current nurses-it will ensure a shortage of nurses, she says. rice field. “It’s hard to imagine a nurse who gives her everything with a much lower salary than other nurses,” Reading said.

Employees earn 26% higher than average market wages, and services will be affordable if labor costs aren’t kept down, Kaiser said.

This month, health care workers are on strike at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY, protesting the working conditions of a hospital in the midst of a pandemic.
This month, health care workers are on strike at Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, NY, protesting the working conditions of a hospital in the midst of a pandemic. Photo: Lindsay Dedario / Reuters

Many non-union workers were often disappointed with low wages, unstable schedules and inadequate treatment, and refused to quit or return to their original jobs after being dismissed during a pandemic. In August, 4.2 million workers quit their jobs. Great resignation.. Some economists suggest that this is a quiet general strike where workers demand better wages and conditions. “People use the exit from their work as a source of power,” Kochan said.

When it comes to trade union workers, some labor professionals see similarities between today’s strike explosion and the much larger waves of strikes after World War I and World War II. .. As with the pandemic, these devastating wars have caused many Americans to reassess their lives and jobs and ask:

Professor Bruno said union employers need to rethink their approach to negotiations and “take ranks and files fairly seriously” in the light of today’s increasing fighting power of workers. They can no longer expect workers to capsize or forcefully arm the concessions that swallow them.

Bruno wondered if the strike surge would last long. He predicted that wages and quality of work would improve for a long time, adding that it was more likely than the union would significantly increase its membership. He said that if workers see others win better wages and terms through strikes, it will increase the visibility of the union and lead to more workers voting to join the union. Stated.

Despite the recent turmoil, City University of New York labor sociologist Ruth Milkman foresaw a return to the status quo. “When things settle down, I think things will return to their original place,” she said. “The labor shortage does not always last.” She sees the number of strikes decrease after the labor shortage ends.

In her view, “they are not very organized, so it is unlikely that the number of union members will increase significantly.

Like the union activities in Buffalo’s Starbucks and Amazon, “although there is a little” “but not a big impetus.”

According to Milkman, the big question was how to maintain the momentum of labor today. She said it would help if Congress passed legislation to protect the right to organize. It will make it easier to unite the workers. The law will spur unions to become more organized and more likely to win their motivation.

“It will be a real shot in my arms,” ​​Milkman said.

“Strike tober” shows the growing power of workers, but does it lead to lasting change? | US trade unions

Source link “Strike tober” shows the growing power of workers, but does it lead to lasting change? | US trade unions

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