Are strikes making a comeback?

Dive Brief:

  • In the tightest talent market in recent history, job seekers may appear to be holding all the cards, but workers are also realizing their value and acting on it through strikes, according to reporting from The American Prospect. As employees realize their value, they’re more willing to leverage it for better wages and working conditions.
  • Toward the end of last year, nearly 14,000 hotel workers walked off the job across the country demanding year-round benefits. In California, 15,000 patient-care workers staged a walkout for three days against the University of California’s medical centers. In support, 24,000 unionized workers, including truck drivers, gardeners and cooks, joined their protest.
  • And traditionally white-collar companies are not immune: 20,000 Google workers walked off the job for one day to protest how the company managed sexual harassment allegations against top tier management.

Dive Insight:

Although the recent Supreme Court ruling in Janus put unions on notice, many public and private sector employees across the country are looking at strikes as an option to improve working conditions and wages. In ten cities, McDonald’s employees also staged a one day walkout to protest workplace sexual harassment.

Thanks to a tight talent market — and to workers more able and willing to share their experiences online — it’s possible employees in large and small companies may see walkouts as an effective tool for change and improvement in the workplace, especially now that employer brands are more at-risk.

In the UC hospital system strike, current and former employees were protesting the outsourcing of jobs; staff members were allegedly forced to train their less qualified replacements or lose their severance packages. The federal government has vowed to crack down on employers who prefer to hire temporary visa workers over qualified U.S. workers, pushing the administration’s “buy American and hire American” executive order. At least two suits regarding adherence to the order have been filed since 2017, meaning employers that want to shore up talent pipelines by hiring visa-holding talent should be sure they prove Americans won’t take the work.

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