New episodes of "The Uncertain Hour" are out now! Listen now

Workers are staging more labor actions, thanks in part to the strong job market

Mitchell Hartman Feb 23, 2023
Heard on:
HTML EMBED:
COPY
Nurses from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York strike outside the hospital. Labor action jumped by more than half in 2022 compared to 2021, according to recent data. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

Workers are staging more labor actions, thanks in part to the strong job market

Mitchell Hartman Feb 23, 2023
Heard on:
Nurses from Mount Sinai Hospital in New York strike outside the hospital. Labor action jumped by more than half in 2022 compared to 2021, according to recent data. Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

Organized labor has been on the march lately. Last year, more than 120,000 workers took part in 23 “major” work stoppages, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics – those are strikes or lockouts that involve at least a thousand workers.

The number of stoppages and workers involved have been rising since the pandemic began.

Cornell University looked at last year’s labor actions and found strikes and lockouts rose around 50%.

Most were in education, health care and food service. Cornell School of Industrial and Labor Relations Dean Alex Colvin said the tight labor market is emboldening workers.

“They have some more bargaining power, the labor market is strong, they feel they can use the strike weapon to get gains they think they deserve,” Colvin said.

Some workers are striking to improve the services they provide, said Jennifer Sherer at the Economic Policy Institute.

When K-through-12 teachers in Columbus, Ohio, went on strike, “one of their demands was that the district invest equally across the school system upgrading facilities that were really affecting students’ learning conditions,” Sherer said.

Elsewhere, graduate teaching assistants are pressing for fewer students to supervise, and nurses — fewer patients to care for on each shift.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.