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June 24, 2024
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Local 602 Recording Secretary Doug Fox
Updated On: Apr 116, 2024

March 2024

2023 saw a big surge in union activity. Union represented worker membership was up over 190,000 compared to 2022. More workers filed for union elections in a variety of sectors—including health care, nonprofits, higher education, museums, retail, and manufacturing. The Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that almost ½ million workers were involved in 33 major work stoppages in 2023, up over 280% from 2022. About 75% of strikes in 2023 took place in the private sector, with over half in health care. Government work stoppages involved public colleges, universities and public elementary schools. Some of the issues workers went on strike were: wages not keeping up with inflation, health insurance, retirement benefits, longer work hours, and working conditions.

Some of the larger strikes you may have heard about were:

United Auto Workers
On September 15, 2023, more than 12,000 workers went on strike at GM, Ford, and Stellantis. The workers went on strike to secure better pay and benefits after previous concessionary contracts. Between 2013 and 2023, the three automakers had seen their profits rise by $250 billion. The UAW selected specific worksites to strike, with approximately 53,000 workers participated in the work stoppage. This was the first time the UAW had gone on strike at all three automakers at the same time.

Kaiser Permanente
In October 2023, more than 75,000 Kaiser Permanente workers represented by number of unions went on the largest recorded health care strike in U.S. history. Their biggest issues were pay and staffing

University of Michigan
In March 2023, around 2,200 workers at the University of Michigan went on strike. The workers included graduate student instructors and graduate student assistants. Their big issues were pay and benefits and to get harassment protection and safer working conditions.

Starbucks
On November 16, 2023, more than 5,000 Starbucks workers went on strike because of the company’s refusal to bargain in good faith for a first contract. For more than two years, Starbucks has refused to bargain and has not reached a first contract with any of its unionized stores.

Hollywood
From July through November SAG-AFTRA (actors) and May through September WGA (writers) were on strike. Some of the main issues were pay from streaming services and the use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Contact your congress people and urge them to support the following Pending Legislation

• The Protecting the Right to Organize (PRO) Act includes reforms that would strengthen private-sector workers’ right to strike. It would eliminate the prohibition on secondary strikes and allow the use of intermittent strikes. It would also prohibit employers from permanently replacing striking workers.

• The Striking and Locked Out Workers Healthcare Protection Act would stop employers from cancelling health care of striking workers

• The Food Secure Strikers Act would allow striking workers to qualify for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

In many polls, the majority of Americans say the decades of declining union membership has been bad for working people and the country. The spike in union activity and more non-union workers voting for union representation appears to verify this. Unions help protect workers and improve conditions for all. Shortly after the UAW auto strike, 3 non-union automakers raised the wages for their workers. The workers are standing up to corporate greed and demanding a fair share, and unions can help them get that.


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