U.S. Workers on Strike to Demand for more Pay

U.S. Workers on Strike to Demand for more Pay

Thousands of workers demanding higher pay and better conditions remain on strike across the United States. The jobs market has remained tight. 

Meanwhile, over the weekend, Hollywood make-up artists and camera operators have reached a deal to avoid a walkout. While they avoided a strike, the picket lines could still become more crowded.

On Saturday evening, they avoided a shutdown of production after the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees reached a last-minute, tentative agreement with studios and streaming services over worker demands. Some 60,000 behind-the-scenes workers on movies and TV shows avoided joining the cereal plant Kellogg (NYSE:K) Co’s strikers. 

However, the near-walkout was the latest demonstration by union members, their way of expressing that they’re fed up with meager or no raises and other givebacks. 

Many of their members were deemed essential workers during the pandemic crisis. But labor activists complain that this does not reflect in how they are treated by employers. 

Unions are ready to test companies’ resolve, with a White House administration  that they see as sympathetic. Additionally, with a job market that saw a record number of Americans quitting in August. 

According to Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker, at least 176 strikes, so far, have been launched this year, including 17 in October. 

Despite some setbacks, union leaders feel it is possible for them to make gains. The setbacks include a failed organizing drive in early 2021 at an Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) facility outside Birmingham, Alabama. 

Union Membership

In recent decades, Union membership has been declining steadily.   According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, it fell to under 11% of employed Americans in 2020 from 20% in 1983. 

However, 68% of Americans now approve of unions, the biggest proportion since 1965, according to a poll in August. Moreover, that rate rises to almost 78% for those aged 18 to 29.

In April, President Joe Biden created a task force to promote labor organizing. The widespread view among organizers that the Democrat  is the most pro-union president in modern times helps fuel the hopes of union leaders. 

Two months earlier, Biden defended workers’ rights to form unions. It was in the run-up to the failed attempt to organize Amazon workers in Alabama, where the teamsters have vowed to continue trying to organize the company’s warehouse operations.