So far this year, well over 100,000 employees have gone on strike, with the total number of strikes on pace to double the number seen in 2022. As strikes are becoming more prevalent among workers and news coverage of these events increases, consumers are taking notice of how companies respond.
Traditionally, negotiations between an employer and its employees were handled by the legal and human resources departments. But now, with many companies facing the risk of customer backlash or even boycotts, public relations teams are starting to take a seat at the negotiating table, too.
Summer of Strikes
This summer has been particularly turbulent when it comes to strikes. In fact, 80% more workers have walked out on the job this season, compared to last summer.
Roughly 3,000 Starbucks (SBUX) employees are currently on strike over the company’s response to a policy on Pride Month decor. Within the media industry, hundreds of workers across Gannett (GCI) and Insider organized walkouts in protest of working conditions and contract provisions. And, of course, the ongoing Writers Guild of America strike continues to disrupt Hollywood.
Each new strike has the potential to empower workers across industries to do the same, making it more important than ever for companies to manage their responses to employees and the public alike.
These days, a company’s response to a strike can cause a ripple effect of headlines. In fact, recent data indicates social media responses to strike coverage reached new highs in May. It’s a trend that poses potential challenges for employers and their PR departments.
With this in mind, companies facing strikes must walk an increasingly fine line, balancing employee demands and the best outcome for the business, while mitigating risk of alienating customers.
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