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1.6 million workers will see their contracts expire this year. Will 2023 be the 'Year of the Strike?'
If 2022 was the year of significantly more union organizing activity, 2023 may be the year of significantly more work stoppages, involving a much greater number of workers.
According to the Department of Labor’s Major Work Stoppages report—although the Labor Department only tracks work stoppages of 1,000 or more workers—more than 122,000 workers engaged in 20 major work stoppages through November 2022.
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While 2022’s major work stoppages were higher than in 2021, and involved more workers, 2023 has the potential for more work stoppages involving a much greater number of employees.
According to an article in late-December, Bloomberg noted that there are at least 150 large union contracts set to expire in 2023 involving at least 1.6 million workers.
Among those are the Detroit automakers with 150,000 workers among three companies, UPS with 256,000 workers, and SAG-AFTRA performers with 160,000 workers, according to data collected by Bloomberg Law on union contracts covering more than 1,000 workers. [Emphasis added.]
In addition to the large union contracts Bloomberg noted, there are hundreds of smaller contracts that will be expiring, as well as hundreds of newly unionized bargaining units going to the bargaining table for the first time.
For example, although the pace has slowed, roughly 265 Starbucks locations with nearly 7,000 Starbucks workers have unionized since 2021. However, each of those will be negotiating on a store-by-store basis.
Currently, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA), which represents 16,000 nurses at eight hospitals in New York City has issued a 10-day strike notice.
Additionally, as workers at Apple, Chipotle, Trader Joe’s and many food and retail establishments have unionized in smaller numbers at individual locations, many of those have not yet started the bargaining process.
While it may be too early to tell if 2023 will be ‘The Year of the Strike,’ the possibility that labor unrest will affect many workers across the nation is higher than it has been in years.
Work stoppages involving less than 1,000 workers are not recorded by the Department of Labor. So, while there were more work stoppages involving fewer than 1,000 workers in 2022, precise data is unavailable.