Oct 13 (Reuters) – A tight U.S. labor market, the expiry of union contracts and high living costs have led to tough negotiations for pay hikes and benefits, triggering strikes and protests across industries.
Nearly 309,700 workers have been involved in work stoppages and strikes through August this year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting 2023 on track to becoming the busiest year for strikes since 2019.
Here are some sectors and companies that faced tough negotiations in 2023:
Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) approved a new three-year contract with major studios on Oct. 9. Film and television writers had walked off the job in May over compensation, staffing and residual payments, among other issues. They returned to work on Sept. 27 after negotiators reached a tentative agreement.
In July, the SAG-AFTRA actors union joined the writers on picket lines. Negotiations between Hollywood studios and the union were suspended on Oct. 11 as the two sides clashed over streaming revenue. The union had resumed negotiations last week.
The coordinated strike against General Motors (GM.N), Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis (STLAM.MI), which began after the earlier contracts expired on Sept. 15, initially targeted three assembly plants.
Teamsters union workers at United Parcel Service (UPS.N)
ratified a new five-year contract in August, a deal that raises pay, eliminates a two-tier wage system for drivers, provides another paid holiday and ends forced overtime.
AIRLINES & AEROSPACE FIRMS
Pilots at several airlines including American Airlines (AAL.O), Delta Airlines (DAL.N), United Airlines Holdings (UAL.O), Spirit Airlines (SAVE.N) and Jetblue Airways (JBLU.O) negotiated new job contracts this year.
Members of some unions like the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association have voted to authorize a strike if a new contract is not reached.
U.S. Steel (X.N), which is reviewing multiple proposals ranging from partial acquisition to an entire buyout, is embroiled in a tussle with the United Steelworkers union. The company’s unionized workers say they essentially have the power to veto any transaction they do not approve of.
CONSUMER & RETAIL
Thousands of Las Vegas workers will picket in front of eight MGM Resorts (MGM.N) and Caesars Entertainment (CZR.O) resort locations on Oct. 12. Unions representing the roughly 53,000 Las Vegas workers met last week with MGM, Caesars and Wynn Resorts (WYNN.O) over a new five-year contract.
In September, workers at three Detroit casinos – MGM Grand Detroit, Hollywood at Greektown and MotorCity – voted in favor of authorizing a strike at all three locations if a new contract agreement isn’t reached. The Detroit Casino Council (DCC), which represents the workers, could call for strikes as soon as mid-October, when contracts expire.
More than 3,000 workers at more than 150 Starbucks (SBUX.O) stores in the U.S. held strikes in June, following claims the company had banned Pride Month decorations at some of its cafes. read more read more
Thousands of Los Angeles-area hotel staffers went on a three-day strike in July over improved wages, benefits and working conditions. Union leaders representing the workers have threatened further walkouts.
Kaiser Permanente’s healthcare workers unions reached a tentative agreement with the company on Oct. 13, settling a dispute that sparked the largest-ever such labor action in the medical sector.
Tens of thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente staged a planned three-day strike last week over pay and staffing issues.
More than 7,000 nurses went on a three-day strike in New York City over staffing levels and pay hikes in January.
Unions representing cannabis workers have also increased pressure on companies in the sector this year.
Workers at Green Thumb Industries’ (GTII.CD) Chicago-area RISE dispensaries went on a 13-day unfair labor practices (ULP) strike in April, which was the longest ULP strike at a cannabis retailer in U.S. history.
Labor unions secured new contract agreements at multistate operator-owned cannabis dispensaries in Illinois and in New Jersey in July.
The union had been in talks with the refiner since summer, when it rejected a company proposal and sought additional benefits for holiday and vacation hours and pay, among other improvements.
Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila and Eileen Soreng