This week, an unprecedented number of workers around the country have gone on strike. Over 100,000 workers across a variety of industries have voted to vacate their positions and join picket lines, demanding better wages, hours, and working conditions from big-box corporations and their C-suite executives. In light of this, the AFL-CIO cheekily renamed this month “Striketober” on Twitter.
Striketober is just one of many recent displays that something big is happening in the US economy and workforce. Thanks to significant government intervention, many Americans, particularly those at the bottom of the socioeconomic ladder, are doing better financially than they were at the start of the pandemic two years ago. And they are using their bigger purses to buy more – so much more, in fact, that demand for a variety of products and services has now outstripped supply. This has led to supply chain issues around the world and record labor shortages here at home, with roughly a million more job openings than people looking for work.
These trends have tipped the scales in favor of workers for the first time in decades. They are fed up and using their newfound leverage to push back against employers. Workers are not only striking – they’re also quitting their jobs in droves, leading to what some are now calling the “Great Resignation.” Employers now need to take note and meet workers’ demands if they want to make up for production shortfalls.
This week, we’re shining a spotlight on the experiences of those involved in Striketober and the Great Resignation.
The Revenge of the Essential Worker by Molly Osberg
10,000 John Deere workers currently on strike make up part of the movement that is Striketober. They were deemed “essential” and “heroes” during the height of the pandemic; now they are asking to be paid accordingly by their company, which has made record profits off their backs during the last two years. So far, John Deere isn’t faring well during the strike – they didn’t make it a full morning without one of their strikebreakers crashing a tractor. Hopefully, John Deere and companies like it wake up sooner rather than later to the reality that American workers are fed up and willing to do what it takes to get their financial fair share.
The leadership representing some 60,000 members of the International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees union (IATSE) decided not to go on strike this past Monday after a tentative agreement was struck between them and the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (MAPTP). Unfortunately, members of the union are unhappy with the tentative agreement and plan to vote “no” on it. They believe the deal reached doesn’t meaningfully meet their demands for better hours, pay, and working conditions, and are willing to put up a fight to get more.
Why I Quit: People Share the Reasons They Left Their Jobs by Michael Blackmon
Record numbers of Americans are quitting their jobs: in August, a whopping 4.3 million workers gave in their notices. Reasons for this are varied, but Blackmon finds a common denominator in that workers are simply fed up. This sentiment is particularly apparent in the service industries, with workers tired of long hours, questionable working conditions and practices, and being treated as if they are disposable. Employers, take note – workers are fed up with substandard working conditions and finally have the means to stand up for themselves and leave jobs that don’t treat them the way they deserve.
Too many employers are lamenting their inability to find workers, citing laziness, unemployment benefits, and stimulus checks as the cause. One man in Florida, Joey Holz, conducted a social experiment in an attempt to find out what’s behind these businesses’ inability to hire staff by applying to 60 different entry-level service jobs. The result? A single interview, where he learned that the real responsibilities and pay for the job were not even advertised accurately. It appears that the “labor shortage” in the US might be more accurately described as a shortage of employers willing to pay and treat their workers fairly.