US Labor Unions Flex Muscle in Tough Negotiations
Labor Unions: A Force to Be Reckoned With
A tight labor market, expiring union contracts, and soaring living costs have resulted in challenging negotiations for pay raises and benefits, sparking strikes and protests across various industries.
Preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals that as of August this year, nearly 309,700 workers have participated in work stoppages and strikes. This surge in labor actions indicates that 2023 is on track to become the busiest year for strikes since 2019.
Challenges Faced Across Different Sectors
Media: Writers Guild of America (WGA) members recently approved a new three-year contract with major studios, concluding a standoff over compensation, staffing, and residual payments. Meanwhile, SAG-AFTRA actors remain on strike as negotiations with studios continue.
Automotive: The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has expanded its strike against the Detroit Three automakers – General Motors, Ford Motor, and Stellantis. Union workers at Volvo-owned Mack Trucks have also gone on strike after rejecting a proposed contract.
Parcel Delivery: Teamsters union workers at United Parcel Service (UPS) ratified a new five-year contract, while FedEx pilots are still in negotiations with the company over wages and pensions.
Airlines & Aerospace Firms: Pilots at several airlines negotiated new contracts this year, with some unions authorizing strikes if agreements are not reached. Spirit AeroSystems also resolved a strike at its Wichita plant.
Manufacturing: Cleveland-Cliffs reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers union for its Northshore mining operations. U.S. Steel is facing challenges as its unionized workers possess veto power over potential acquisitions.
Consumer & Retail: Las Vegas workers from MGM Resorts and Caesars Entertainment resorts are picketing for improved contract terms. Starbucks employees held strikes over Pride Month decorations, while Los Angeles-area hotel staff staged a three-day strike for better wages and conditions.
Healthcare: The Coalition of Kaiser Permanente Unions has warned of a possible follow-up strike unless a settlement is reached. Thousands of nurses and healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente recently staged a three-day strike over pay and staffing issues.
Cannabis: Labor unions representing cannabis workers have been pressuring companies in the sector. Green Thumb Industries employees went on a 13-day strike in April, while new contract agreements were secured at dispensaries in Illinois and New Jersey.
Energy: Unionized workers at Phillips 66’s refinery in Illinois ratified a contract, averting a potential strike. Negotiations centered around holiday and vacation benefits, among other improvements.
The Power of Labor Unions
Labor unions have demonstrated their ability to influence negotiations and advocate for workers’ rights across various industries. As workers face challenges in today’s labor market, unions play a crucial role in safeguarding their interests and ensuring fair treatment.
By standing together, workers can address issues such as compensation, staffing, and working conditions, ultimately shaping the future of the labor landscape.