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Is the Labor Movement Having a Moment?

California has seen its fair share of strikes over the last few years. In 2021, 24,000 Kaiser Permanente health workers authorized a strike, which was averted just two days before it went into place. In 2022, the University of California graduate workers went on strike for several weeks in one of the largest academic strikes in history, negatively impacting thousands of students. In 2023, employees at the Los Angeles Unified School District, the second-largest district in the country, went on strike for three days. Since May 2, the Writers Guild of America, representing 11,500 writers, has been on strike against the major studios and streamers in Los Angeles and New York City. The 160,000 members of the Screen Actors Guild just initiated their strike. Los Angeles hotel workers walked out the same week. Each group says it seeks fair living wages for workers.

The Washington Post reports the "hot labor summer" is flaring nationwide, with the 340,000 UPS employees having authorized a strike. An expert interviewed in its article noted the confluence of events leading to these moments: "The labor market is tight, everybody knows it," and these workers are "highly organized-this is a moment you organize for, to gain what the unions would consider a transformational contract." Many companies are likely watching how these strikes play out in deciding to move forward.

Amazon seems to be strongly resisting efforts to unionize within its workforce. The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a complaint against the company because it will not bargain with the union representing employees in its Staten Island warehouse. This refusal to negotiate comes after the NLRB declined to overturn the workers' vote to unionize. The agency wants a court order directing Amazon to "bargain in good faith." Meanwhile, Amazon continues to contest the validity of the election.