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The surge of labor strikes as workers demand fairness and change

Why we're seeing a rise in labor strikes and worker solidarity.
The surge of labor strikes as workers demand fairness and change
Posted at 8:12 PM, Jul 22, 2023

From entertainment to service industries to unhappy graduate-student workers, U.S. employees across various professions and skill sets are walking off the job in 2023.

Their demands are unique to their respective jobs, but economists say they share a common goal.

"Wages have not improved, at least not substantially. So, in a sense, this is long overdue," said Dr. Anthony Carnevale.

Carnevale is a research professor and director of Georgetown University’s Center on Education and the Workforce.

He says there’s a reason for the hopefully temporary employee exodus: A movement now being dubbed "Hot Labor Summer," where people in various professions are pushing for better pay amid rising costs and record profits for many businesses.

"Employers have held the upper hand for a long time; the way economists say it, which is what my training is, capital is becoming more and more power labor less and less powerful," said Carnevale.

Potentially next to join the growing chorus of unhappy U.S. workers are hundreds of thousands of UPS workers.

UPS and its unionized drivers have until July 31st to reach a new labor agreement and avert a strike.

A strike that could deal a devastating blow to not only the company but the U.S. economy.

SEE MORE: Job market continues to add jobs but shows signs of cooling

One major U.S. consulting firm is putting the cost of a 10-day UPS strike on the U.S. economy at a whopping $7 billion.

"All of a sudden, you're talking about sectors like national defense and aerospace production being very affected. You are talking about companies; you know, farmers are gonna be getting around to go into, you know, harvest season. Well, guess how a lot of these parts get shipped from central distribution centers to, you know, forward dealers that fix farm equipment? They get shipped by parcel," said Jason Miller of Michigan State University’s Broad College of Business.

According to Dr. Carnevale, a significant factor contributing to labor strikes across the workforce is the waning influence of unions.

"They lost their power largely because of globalization, technology, and the decline of manufacturing," said Carnevale.

With film and TV production currently at a standstill and the threat of a global supply chain crisis that could rival that of the COVID pandemic, Will fed-up workers come out on top and have their demands met?

"I think in most cases they're going to get most of what they want. American employers can't afford the shift in wealth between workers and management," said Carnevale.


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