Work stoppages around the country

  • Thousands of workers across the United States are on strike, and thousands are preparing to leave.
  • It is called “Knitting Tober” and it shows a revitalized labor movement ready to lay down tools.
  • Workers flex their power across the economy by quitting, striking, and demanding better conditions.

A new month is born in 2021. Instead of October it is “Knitting Tober”.

This is because thousands of workers in all industries say no to the current working conditions. They do not join the wave of workers stopping during the “great resignation” phase of labor shortages. They stay with their current job – but demand that it be changed.

From coal miners in Alabama to Hollywood theater hands and from Kellogg’s to John Deere, flexible American workers wield their power across the economy.

All in all, The Hill reports that amid a national labor shortage, more than 100,000 workers have voted to approve strikes. This means that many employees will quit their jobs and stop working altogether until they reach agreement with management on topics such as pay transparency, more manageable hours, and better benefits.

It can mark a new chapter in American work history while touching on everything from your favorite snack to your favorite movies.

Dan Osborn – chairman of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Works and Grain Millers Union local 50G in Omaha, Nebraska – is one of the workers across four different Kellogg factories currently on strike for an equal pay system and stronger benefits.

Osborn, who has been a mechanic at Kellogg for 18 years, said, “there seems to be a movement sweeping across America with work right now. People are finally standing up for what they think and the workers are trying to get what they deserve. “

The labor movement pretty much slumbered in 2020. Knitting needles could bring it back to life.

These strikes are huge in scope

More than 60,000 Hollywood-based workers in the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Workers (IATSE) are preparing for a strike on Monday, while more than 24,000 health workers at Kaiser Permanente have approved a work stoppage, reports The Washington Post if they do not get an equal pay system, increases and more help facilitate card manning.

Several thousand are already actively striking. In addition to the 1,400 Kellogg workers who have been on strike since Oct. 5, more than 10,000 John Deere workers went on strike at midnight Thursday. In Alabama, 1,100 coal miners have been on strike since April, reports Mic’s Kim Kelly.

“Without an end date, we could continue to speak forever. Our members deserve to have their basic needs met now,” IATSE President Matthew Loeb said in a Wednesday statement.

This is the first time that IATSE has approved a strike showing a breaking point. Insider’s Elaine Low reports that it could essentially shut down Hollywood. The number of IATSE workers on strike alone would be more than double the number of workers involved in major work stoppages last year.

In fact, this round of strikes will be felt by both consumers and workers. An IATSE walkout could slow down the production of TV shows and movies; Osborn is asking strike supporters to boycott Kellogg’s products as the strike continues.

In a statement, Kellogg’s said “our proposal has been grossly misrepresented by the Union” and the company is “ready, willing and able to continue negotiations at any time.”

Workers are fighting back against unequal gains

Mike Mitchell, director of policy and research at Groundwork Collaborative, told Insider the strikes reflect a “major, significant shift in power from workers to companies and businesses.” He says it’s because of the pandemic and its aftermath

created so much insecurity for workers while inequality rose and wages remained stagnant.

As inequality becomes more pronounced during the pandemic, stimulus measures also led to personal incomes reaching record highs. Wages, too, have actually shifted significantly upward for the first time in decades – something that unemployed Americans previously told Insider made them reconsider what they want or need from work.

In a tweet, IATSE Communications Director Jonas Loeb wrote that “#Striketober is a function of greedy bosses trying to regain the non-recoverable. Workers across all sectors of our economy are being pushed to the brink to make up for lost time during pandemic shutdown.”

U.S. billionaires added $ 1.8 trillion to their fortunes during the pandemic, according to a report by the left-wing Institute for Policy Studies and Americans for fiscal justice. In 2020, CEOs received 351 times more salary than the typical employee, an analysis from EPI found.

Over the past 40 years, the number of workers covered by unions has shrunk by half, according to a report from the left-wing Economic Policy Institute.

By 2020, 444,000 fewer workers were covered by a union than in 2019, the EPI found. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that there were only eight major work stoppages in 2020, involving at least 1,000 workers and lasting at least one shift during the week. Only two other years had fewer strikes, and that is far lower than the average of 16 a year over the last two decades.

In general, 27,000 workers were involved in work stoppages that started in 2020, per. BLS. The looming IATSE strike alone dwarfs it.

Mitchell said this will go down as a historic month of work effort. “You can see similar moments in the early 1900s, when there was a strong concentration of corporate power, really no real rules about the ability of workers to come together and talk and make their voices heard,” he said. added that the pandemic has raised many of the same issues for workers.

The Biden administration has actively sought to strengthen the union’s power and collective bargaining as a priority, dedicated a task force to it and supports the PRO Act, a major law on workers’ rights. It is “the most pro-professional administration in history,” press secretary Jen Psaki said at a news conference Thursday.

“Our economy is shifting to a labor market where workers have more bargaining power,” Psaki said. She added: “It means workers can push for higher wages and more dignity and respect in the workplace.”

As for the actual experience of being on strike, Osborn said it is a “cocktail of emotions”.

“It has been hard, but it has been exciting at the same time to be a part of something bigger than yourself,” he said. “This movement is not just about the 1,400 workers at Kellogg’s who are on strike. It is about workers across the country.”

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