“Striketober”: Workers stage widespread strikes across the US

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American workers’ strikes are currently sweeping across the United States. Unions and the mass media label these as “Striketober” to underscore the large number of workers’ strikes that have erupted this October.

More than 100,000 workers from different unions in the US are joining the intensifying surge of strikes that call for wage increases, better working conditions, and respect for their human dignity. Last October 25, an estimated 45 strikes were already held by workers from different companies and industries, including those in manufacturing, film-making and health.

Among the first Striketober protests was the strike in October 1 by hundreds of Mercy Hospital nurses in New York, and by 450 workers from Special Metals Corporation in West Virginia.

The strike by around 10,000 workers of John Deere (manufacturer of agricultural machinery and heavy equipment) in Iowa was among the largest, along with that of 1,400 workers from all plants of Kellogg’s (maker of cereal foods) in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee.

More than 30,000 nurses and healthcare workers from hospitals under Kaiser Permanente (a consortium of healthcare companies) in California and Oregon also warned of a strike.

MacDonald’s workers in ten US cities also went on strike to protest cases of sexual harassment and abuse.

Striketober was launched in the middle of the Great Resignation, also known as the Big Quit, an ongoing trend in the US wherein large numbers of workers voluntarily quit their jobs since March 2021 as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic. This is despite the continuing lack of workers and widespread loss of jobs in the US.

American workers are taking advantage of the so-called labor shortage crisis. Despite the high unemployment rate in the US, companies are confronted with difficulties in hiring workers.

Analysts explain this as a result in the changes in the labor market as a result of the pandemic (like workers approaching the age of retirement who refuse to return to work), of the increasing demand for higher wages, and restrictions on the entry of immigrants (who usually comprise the source of cheap labor force for US companies). In the health sector, workers suffer the conditions of severe fatigue in the face of the uphill battle against Covid-19.

Strikes are expected to continue until the US midterm elections in 2022.

AB: “Striketober”: Workers stage widespread strikes across the US