Strike wave can be the start of something big
âThere is a new wave of strikes right now,â says Alexander Colvin, dean of Cornell’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations. Discontent has slowly grown in recent years. Colvin said ViceâThe pandemic has disrupted a lot of things and left workers dissatisfied and eager to see change. This is accompanied by an increase in the bargaining power of workers. There are a lot of job openings and high quit rates. Expectations are rising. “
Payroll reportThe “Strike Tracker” recently documented its 1,600th sick leave since the start of the pandemic in March 2020.
Across the country, several thousand workers are in rebellion. They are angry at the long hours, low wages, deplorable and dangerous working conditions and disrespect. They work in factories, hospitals, universities, retail businesses and film / television studios. It is the biggest revolt in decades. Most workers do not belong to unions, so they cannot strike. Non-union workers, especially in the hotel and service industries, are leaving their jobs in large numbers. Bloomberg reports that “the magnitude of the increase in 2021 is far beyond anything on record.”
A nurse in Kaiser, California told union reporter Steven Greenhouse, âWe have done everything we can during the pandemic. We worked extra shifts. Our lives have been turned upside down. The signs were everywhere saying, âThe heroes work here. And the pandemic isn’t even over for us, and then for them to offer us a 1% raise, it’s almost a slap in the face. “
The bosses didn’t see it coming. Robert Bruno, professor of labor relations at the University of Illinois, said: âYou can certainly see that American capitalism has reigned supreme over workers and therefore the incentive for business is to continue. to do what works for them. It is likely that arrogance is setting in where companies think it will go on forever, and maybe they are not reading the time correctly.
Public support for the labor movement in the United States has reached its highest level in more than 50 years. President Joe Biden said he was going to be “the most pro-union president you’ve ever seen.”
There have been promising appointments and decrees.
American labor law has become very supportive of management over the years. Over the decades, Democratic presidents have supported efforts to change the situation but have never led a serious fight. The United States House passed the Right to Organize Protection Act (PRO Act) and Biden spoke in favor of it. However, Senate Republicans led by Mitch McConnell used filibuster to block it.
The PRO law would prohibit employer interference and influence in union elections. Mandatory company-sponsored bullying meetings are often used to lobby against an organizing campaign.
Such meetings would be illegal. For the first time, financial penalties would be imposed on companies and managers who violate workers’ rights. Company directors and other officers of the company could also be held liable.
The PRO law would reinvigorate the labor movement. He needs a kick in the arm. Only six percent of workers in the private sector are unionized, the lowest level in a century.
For the first time in decades, militant worker resistance is helping to shape the political agenda of the Democratic Party. The $ 3.5 trillion budget proposal would give workers more power in their day-to-day lives with policies that support home health care and child care, the child tax credit, the expansion of Medicaid and investments in housing and green energy.
If people have more stable and economically secure lives, they have more time and energy to become active and informed citizens. A democracy needs active and informed citizens. Now more than ever when one of the two big parties, the GOP, has become an authoritarian far right party.
Write in Working notes, Jonah Furman and Gabriel Winant note: âIn recent years, a number of mainstream Democrats have come to accept what was previously a left-wing argument: that increasing social inequality and declining economic security the working class are the ultimate cause of the destabilization of American democracy and must be taken head-on. The stated position of the Biden administration is that âthe decline in union density has. . . weakened our democracy.
–This opinion column does not necessarily reflect the views of Weekly Boulder.