U.S. organized labor is having a moment after decades of erosion in both influence and power, giving workers their best chance in recent memory to claw back lost ground, wrote the Ohio AFL-CIO this week. In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, unions are finding they have an upper hand, spurring a flurry of new picket lines and bargaining demands, says the union.
“The headlines reporting a shortage of workers are missing the point,” said national AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler this week. “The pandemic laid bare the inequities of our system.” And this includes public work. Here in Ohio, OCSEA members continue to raise their voices, about wages, staffing shortages, access to time off, alternative work arrangements and telework, blatant contract violations and reparations for service during the pandemic.
Nearly 40 workplaces across the nation—making up over 100,000 workers—have gone on strike since the beginning of August, almost double the number at this time last year. "From Deere & Co.’s factories and Kellogg Co.’s U.S. cereal plants to nurses in Massachusetts and distillery workers in Kentucky, tens of thousands of union workers across a vast swath of industries are either on strike or close to it," wrote the Ohio AFL-CIO. As a result, the month of October has led some to dub this month as "Striketober."
IATSE, one of Hollywood’s most powerful unions made up of 150,000 entertainment workers, settled over the weekend to avoid a strike. And last month, members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) overwhelmingly accepted a successful collective bargaining agreement after 1,000 workers struck, pushing management to the table to bargain a deal on wages, hours and benefits for current and future workers.
“Workers are right to think the ball is in their court,” said Adam Seth Litwin, a professor of industrial and labor relations at Cornell University. “They need to take a really big bite of the apple right now, because whatever they get they’re going to have it in their mouth for a long time.”
Read more: Fed-up workers spark national wave of activism - AFSCME blog - Oct. 19, 2021
Read more: AFL-CIO's Shuler: Workers Are Refusing to Settle for Bad Jobs
Going social: Striketober Rules - What Working People Are Doing This Week
Read more: U.S. Labor Unions Are Having a Moment - Time - October 17, 2021