Workers are exercising their right to strike now more than they have in decades, with the number of workers on strike growing by 50% in 2022. Strong unions are behind this upward trend, empowering and supporting workers in their pursuit to share in the meteoric economic growth so many corporations are enjoying today. The recent strikes of the Writers Guild of America, Screen Actors Guild, and United Auto Workers all highlight important issues that workers are facing across the country, and they are demonstrating the power of speaking with one collective voice.
The strikes of the Writers Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild have generated national press and sparked engaging conversations about the issues that workers face in a myriad of industries. The primary issue at hand in these two strikes mirrored those of so many that came before them- in an ever-changing, global economy contract must mirror the times they exist in. Things like artificial intelligence in creative production and digital streaming that simply did not exist twenty years ago must be considered when it comes to contracts, especially when these innovations are generating billions for CEOs and shareholders. The win for the WGA speaks loudly for the power and strength that unions have when it comes to negotiations. Earning better pay, health and pension contributions, as well as assurances against AI, new foreign streaming residuals and viewership-based streaming bonuses, members of the WGA won a decisive victory in their strike and that win will likely impact the outcome of the ongoing SAG-AFTRA strike.
The United Auto Workers strikes at General Motors, Ford Motors, and Stellantis plants also underscore the need for strong unions and have gained widespread support and attention- even from the president himself. President Joe Biden became the first known sitting president to walk a picket line with striking auto workers when he joined them in Detroit last week. His vocal support of the union and its demands gives deserved credibility and power to the movement. The concessions that workers made during the 2008 and 2009 recession need to be rectified, in addition to compensating them fairly during a time of record inflation. The autoworkers are demanding a 40% pay increase over the life of the contract, a shortened workweek, a shift back to traditional pensions, restoration of cost-of-living adjustments, among other improvements.
Strikes and work stoppages will continue to be a highly effective bargaining tool as long as unions remain strong. SEIU 888 stands united with our brothers and sisters as they fight for fair pay, safer working conditions, and a brighter future. We are always Stronger Together.