By Mrinalika Roy
(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 from workers and triggered 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:
Hollywood’s writers union struck a tentative deal with the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers in late September after five months of failed negotiations. Film and television writers had walked off the job in May over compensation, staffing and residual payments, among other issues.
The striking writers were later joined by the SAG-AFTRA actors union, which remains on strike. Negotiators for striking Hollywood actors resumed contract talks on Monday with representatives of major studios, television networks and streaming services
The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has expanded its ongoing strike against the Detroit Three automakers – General Motors, Ford Motor and Chrysler parent Stellantis. The coordinated strike, which began after the earlier contracts expired on Sept. 15, initially targeted three assembly plants in Michigan, Ohio and Missouri.
About 4,000 workers represented by UAW reached an agreement with Volvo Group-owned Mack Trucks late on Sunday to avoid a strike. About 98% of the truck company’s workers had authorized a strike last month.
Teamsters union workers at United Parcel Service
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.
FedEx pilots have been involved in a standoff with the parcel delivery firm over wages and legacy pensions. Pilots rejected a tentative deal in July and negotiations are expected to restart.
AIRLINES & AEROSPACE FIRMS
Pilots at several airlines including American Airlines, Delta Airlines, United Airlines Holdings, Spirit Airlines and Jetblue Airways 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.
Spirit AeroSystems negotiated a new contract to end a strike that led to a week-long work stoppage at its plant in Wichita, Kansas.
U.S. steel producer Cleveland-Cliffs has reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers union on a new three-year labor agreement for its Northshore mining operations.
U.S. Steel, 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
Unions representing roughly 53,000 Las Vegas workers on Tuesday kicked off negotiations with hotel and casino operators over a new five-year contract. Members of the union had in September voted to authorize a city-wide strike.
Last week, 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 stores in the U.S. held strikes in June, following claims the company had banned Pride Month decorations at some of its cafes.
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.
Tens of thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente launched a planned three-day strike on Wednesday, after negotiations failed to meet the union deadline for reaching a settlement regarding a new contract covering nurses, medical technicians and support staff.
The work stoppage marks the largest strike ever in the U.S. medical industry.
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’ 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.
Unionized workers at Phillips 66’s refinery in Roxana, Illinois, ratified a contract with the refiner in late-stage negotiations, averting a potential strike.
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)