Breaking Down the Summer of Strikes

By: Kaydee Ambas · June 28, 2023 · Reading Time: 3 minutes

Boiling Point

The workforce has seen a string of strikes recently, which have not been limited to one company or industry. Baristas, manufacturing employees, delivery drivers, and even Hollywood script writers have all pushed back on their employee contracts in hopes of securing improved benefits, wages, and other conditions.

Tensions between employers and employees across the US have been bubbling for the past several months. By the end of the summer, several industries could reach a boiling point.

By the Numbers

From January to May of this year, approximately 119,000 employees reportedly went on strike.

This represents a dramatic increase from 2022 and 2021, when only 66,000 and 20,000 employees went on strike, respectively. Additionally, the number of total strikes has steadily increased: from 80 in 2021, to 154 in 2022, to 146 in only the first five months of 2023.

And the strikes have yet to slow down. In the past month, new strikes were announced by 3,000 Starbucks (SBUX) employees, 250 members of Business Insider’s newsroom, and 6,000 workers at a Boeing (BA) supplier plant.

Negotiations Ongoing

Labor experts generally agree the pandemic and subsequent high inflation have left employees feeling both discontent with wages and unhappy with how employers have handled negotiations so far. On the flip side, workers may feel empowered by seeing other successful strikes, encouraging them to take to the picket lines themselves.

Despite all the protests so far, negotiations are still only beginning to ramp up. Later this summer, 150,000 unionized automotive workers across Stellantis (STLA), General Motors (GM), and Ford (F) are set to reach the end of their existing contracts. So are 340,000 UPS (UPS) drivers, who have already voted to strike if their contract conditions are not met.

If either or both of those unions went on strike, it could mean one of the biggest strikes ever seen in the US, and mark a turning point for employer-employee relations across the country. If the year to date is any indication, the impact of such a strike across all industries could be dramatic.

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