From local nurses to national factory workers, this is what drives ‘Striketober’

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It is no coincidence that workers in several sectors get up and go.

PLYMOUTH, Minn. – From 50 nurses in Plymouth to 10,000 United autoworkers across the country, October saw an increase in worker strikes, and experts say “Striketober” is not a coincidence.

“This is a really good time to strike,” said David Larson, professor at Mitchell Hamline School of Law. “In US labor law, we have this rule that you can’t be fired for going on strike, but you can be“ permanently replaced. ”By now everyone knows that not only you can’t find temporary workers, but you can’t find permanent replacements.

According to Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker, the strike by local nurses that resulted in the temporary closure of Allina’s Abbott Northwestern WestHealth and Urgent Care emergency is the 176th strike in the United States this year, and it’s already the 17th strike in October.

“I think the follow-up is very important,” said Ileen DeVault, professor of labor history at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations.

DeVault says the school’s Labor Action Tracker is important because it not only tracks the big strikes that are currently going on at John Deere and Kellogg, but also small strikes like Allina’s. The tracker also tracks protests and stops that do not involve unions.

“There are many forms of union action that don’t require a union,” DeVault said. “It takes a long time in this country, under the national labor relations law, for a union to represent you in a workplace, and many workers right now are not going to wait and go through a long and complicated process of getting the things they feel they need. “

I think monitoring this activity is essential because these small actions often turn into much bigger activities, and this can sometimes lead to unionization down the line. “

The current reality is that in 2020, only 11% of American workers were in a union.

“It’s kind of the generous figure because it takes into account both the public and private sectors,” Larson said. “If you just look at the private sector, it’s 6-7%, which is down from about 40% after WWII.”

But Larson says there’s reason to believe he might be about to change. A Gallup poll in August shows that 68% of Americans now approve of unions, the highest score since 1965. Approval climbs to 78% among 18-29 year olds.

“I think there’s a lot of frustration,” Larson said. “A lot of people look at their own situation and say my quality of life is not what I want it to be. I wish I had better working conditions, maybe more vacation, you know, to be in. home all the times I’ve realized I really miss my kids, and I’m not sure I want to go back to work like I did before. “


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