There have been few times in recent history when the working man and woman in the United States have had the influence in the workplace that existed in 2021. People have been leaving their jobs at a record rate and employers of all kinds found themselves scrambling to fill vacancies. In November last year, the New York Times reported that there were nearly 50% more job openings than there were before COVID – and workers who were still on the job were instigated to strike to demand more flexible hours and better wages and benefits. (These are the industries with the most job openings.)
In October, the Cornell University School of Industrial and Labor Relations reported that workers at some 178 companies had gone on strike since the start of the year. Labor activism peaked in October itself, earning the month the nickname “Strike.” By the end of the year, about 100,000 American workers had walked out in industrial action.
Many of those who organized to seek better working conditions were the so-called essential workers on the front lines in the battle against the pandemic. Others worked in food, industry or entertainment. University professors also went on strike. (These are the 25 highest paying jobs in America.)
At companies where more labor activity might be expected – like Kellogg’s, John Deere and Nabisco – workers went on strike over wages, pensions, shift times working hours and overtime rules.
Emboldened workers at Starbucks and Amazon have demanded union representation, with mixed results. Of the three Buffalo Starbucks seeking a union voice, one succeeded, becoming the first company-owned Starbucks where workers organized. Meanwhile, 6,100 workers from a Amazon warehouse in Bessemer, Alabama, will vote for the second time in a year to unionize.
24/7 Wall Street has compiled a list of some of the most notable strikes in 2021, based on data from the US Bureau of Labor Statistics and reports from various media sources.
Click here to see 19 times American workers went on strike in 2021
Workers could continue to hold strong bargaining power in the future. America is still experiencing the “great resignation” that began in 2021. People are more willing to leave their jobs when there are many job openings, which are at or near historic highs. And they may be more inclined to seek union representation when they return to the workplace. (These are the states with the strongest and weakest unions.)