About 2,000 workers, members of the Communications Workers of America, have been on strike at South Buffalo’s Mercy Hospital for two weeks, citing staffing ratios and health care costs. New York Attorney General Letitia James sent the hospital a cease and desist letter over its use of unlicensed security guards.
Nearly 700 more nurses at St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester, Massachusetts, have been on strike for more than seven months—they’ve won significant concessions on staffing ratios but remain on strike because management is insisting on pushing hundreds of them out of specialized jobs in which they have hard-earned experience. The company is now moving to be allowed to hire permanent replacements for the nurses.
Another long-running strike involves 1,100 coal miners in Alabama, also out on strike for seven months. Workers at Warrior Met Coal have given up more than $1 billion in pay and benefits to help keep the company afloat. Still, management isn’t offering to make up for those concessions in a new contract, despite major hedge fund investments in the company now.
Around 420 workers at a Kentucky distillery have been on strike over health coverage and work schedules for a month. And look at these last two strikes mentioned: Alabama and Kentucky. Do not write off southern workers, even if their states vote red and have few labor protections.
Then there are the strikes that have been authorized and may be coming soon, in one case literally to a theater near you. IATSE, representing behind-the-scenes film and television workers, has set an October 18 deadline after an overwhelming vote authorizing a strike by 60,000 of its members. IATSE workers cite dangerously long work hours, the need to ensure that workers on Netflix and other “new media” services are paid as well as those doing the same jobs on legacy media productions, and the need to protect their pensions and health care. A 60,000-worker strike would be the largest private-sector strike in a decade. The 10,000-worker John Deere strike? That’s the biggest strike in two years in the United States.
But that’s not all: More than 24,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente in California and Oregon have authorized a strike, so that could be coming, too. Illustrating how similar workers’ concerns are across very different industries, the Kaiser workers, like the John Deere workers, are a significant part angry about two-tier contracts, with newer workers getting a lower scale of pay or benefits. In the John Deere case, a two-tier contract has been in place for decades, and workers want to chip away at it, while Kaiser is trying to impose one now.
Some scenes from the ongoing strikes: