Worker strikes soared last year, according to a report by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. In 2022, strikes involving more than 1,000 workers reached the second highest level in two decades.
In fact, the report understates the magnitude of the movement, as its data excludes smaller strikes, such as the Starbucks (SBUX) walkouts that took place during the holiday season. A study by Cornell University found that, on a whole, work stoppages increased by over 50% last year.
Of the 23 major strikes last year, 98% of the workers involved were from the service sector, primarily healthcare and education.
Wages outpaced by inflation and pandemic-related understaffing left many workers feeling burnt out and fed up. But it was the growing popularity of unions at corporate giants like Starbucks and Amazon (AMZN), as well as a sense of worker empowerment driven by the tight labor market, that drove protests to historic highs.
Looking to improve their situation, workers took to the picket lines to secure higher pay and benefits, such as better childcare options and healthcare. Safety concerns and adequate staffing were also brought to the negotiating table.
Disruption in a tight labor market puts workers in a powerful position to request a raise.
With high monthly job openings and unemployment at a 53-year low, some companies are struggling to attract and retain talent, meaning budgets are being revised to accommodate higher pay. On average, companies are setting aside 4% for raises, but some will pay much more. For example, Amazon recently raised its base pay ceiling for executives and knowledge workers from $160,000 to $350,000.
What’s more, pay transparency is increasing with websites like Glassdoor and PayScale pulling back the curtain on rates employers offer. Some states now even require companies to include salary information in job listings, providing workers with data to support their negotiations.
If you work a position your employer is struggling to fill, or you’re qualified for many other listings out there, you might be a prime candidate for a raise. Aside from compensation, consider seeking perks such as a title upgrade, flexible schedule, or additional vacation days. You may not even need a picket sign for your employer to meet your ask — just some perfect timing.
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