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2023: The Year that Unions Went on Strike

Join our Speaker Series for an empowering Alumni College session with LER Alumni Professor of Labor and Employment Relations Michael LeRoy.

Why did unions strike so much in 2023—and what does it mean for the economy? Strikes involving screen actors and writers for TV and movies introduced new safeguards against the use of their work in AI formats, and addressed income lost to new streaming outlets. Strikes involving package delivery drivers for UPS, autoworkers, and health care workers at Kaiser Permanente led to large wage gains, elimination of lower tier jobs with less pay, more time off, and union vows to organize nonunion employers. Still, the outcomes suggest an inflationary effect and layoffs due to higher prices. More generally, Amazon and Starbucks— recently unionized in NLRB elections— are leading aggressive legal efforts before the NLRB and Supreme Court to scale back the nation’s main labor law, the National Labor Relations Act. In all, the pace of change in union activity and labor law policy hasn’t been seen since the 1930s and 1940s, suggesting more instability and unrest.