Labor actions continue across the country

It was a busy summer, and it seems the season for labor action has extended into fall. Inflation has substantially eroded wages over the past few years, and as contracts negotiated before the pandemic expire many workers are trying to catch up. Technological change is on the table too — autoworkers are trying to secure their place in the emerging EV economy and actors want to protect themselves from replacement by AI. Please keep the following in your prayers:

Southern California hotel workers. The cost of housing in the Los Angles area has soared beyond the reach of low-wage workers. That’s a major reason why hotel clerks and housekeepers represented by UNITE HERE have waged short strikes at major area hotels as they demand a living wage.

Kaiser Permanente health care workers. More than 70,000 health care workers at the giant HMO walked off the job for three days in early October. They said that substandard wages were the reason they were chronically understaffed: they couldn’t retain employees. The strike got management’s attention and the two sides now have a tentative agreement.

TV and film actors. Although TV and film writers have settled with the producers, some 65,000 actors remain on picket lines. They haven’t received a fair shake from streaming revenues and want to prevent the studios from using AI-generated images to replace paid actors.

Auto workers. Now that the big three automakers are profitable again, UAW members are trying to recover wage and benefit concessions they made in the wake of the Great Recession of 2007-2008. They also want to make sure that new jobs generated in EV manufacture are family-supporting union jobs. New UAW president Shawn Fain adopted an unusual strategy, striking select facilities of each company and escalating as needed by calling out additional shops. The union has won some important points at the bargaining table already, with Ford willing to restore Cost of Living Adjustments (or COLAs) in the new contract and General Motors agreeing to include new EV battery facilities in the UAW master agreement. But although nearly 40,000 autoworkers have now downed tools, the two parties remain far apart on wages. And now the UAW workers who assemble Mack Trucks have hit the streets as well.