General Question

mammal's avatar

Do workers in America ever go on strike?

Asked by mammal (9431points) November 5th, 2010

Never seem to hear much about industrial/job action in America, compared to Europe.

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37 Answers

Blackberry's avatar

In Philidelphia last year, the public transit workers went on strike, which prevented a lot of people from getting to work.

mammal's avatar

@Blackberry how inconvenient.

mrentropy's avatar

Transit workers are probably the most well known people who strike. And baseball players. But the US doesn’t have much in the of industrialism to go on strike with.

Ivy's avatar

On May Day, 2008, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union declared an eight-hour strike to protest the war in Iraq. The ILWU controls every port along the U.S. Pacific Coast, including Seattle and Tacoma.

mammal's avatar

@mrentropy Baseball players, lol, major league? what would their grievances be i wonder

mammal's avatar

@Ivy Really i didn’t know that, power to them :)

muppetish's avatar

The biggest one I can remember in my area was the Supermarket Strike. My parents complained about it nearly every day as they don’t typically empathize with unions.

On a larger scare, there was the Writer’s Strike, which I followed quite attentively.

As a whole, I don’t hear about strikes often but I am sure they occur (possibly at a local level more than a state or federal level?)

poofandmook's avatar

@mammal: They’re greedy bastards… that’s the grievance. Money.

Joybird's avatar

Employee rights has seen a dismal downturn with very stubtle means of union blocking and busting. On a number of occasions when Republicans have ruled House and Congress they have passed measures that make it impossible for specific groups to strike. The travesty here is that striking….IE shutting the whole damned thing down is the most effective tactic that workers can use. When there were alot of unions protecting workers rights than when one union went on strike other unionized workers would not cross picket lines which meant for a solidarity for more generalized workers rights. Now what we have is corporate rights and corporate aristocracy controlling policy and laws. I have said for a long time that teachers and paras need to take back their unions and just ignore the laws and walk the hell out when strong armed….and so should employees of other fields…like social workers and primary mental health therapists…not to mention doctors.
What currently happens is that the few unions left go on strike and others around them are no longer union and so they are bashed for receiving the better wages and benefits that unionization got them and people don’t support them and still cross the picket lines and buy the products. The companies put scabs to work and in this economy that’s pretty easy to do.
It really is not the way to go. There needs to be a sweeping labor movement in this country and things like Nafta need to be repealed. Corporations who outsource also need to be fined or taxed heavily for doing so. There is no reason why corporations can pay a decent wage and benefits. If you doubt that…take a hard look at the number one service industry and the money they make while paying union employees top wages and benefits: UPS.
And there are product industries that rank high up there as well. Take Wegmans groceries for instance….that make alot of their own products. And even thought their employees aren’t union…they pay high wages and benefits.

mrentropy's avatar

@mammal You know, I don’t remember. That was years ago and, yes, it was the major league.

@muppetish Oh yeah, I forgot about the Writer’s Strike.

JustmeAman's avatar

Baseball players weren’t getting enough money. A couple of million just doesn’t cut it in todays world. LOL

mammal's avatar

@JustmeAman that is stretching even my sympathies.

JustmeAman's avatar

I wish we would have boycotted them and quite watching baseball all together.

mammal's avatar

@Joybird just as i suspected, legal strike action is an integral part of Democracy, surely?

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Wasn’t the last baseball strike actually a lockout by the owners?

mammal's avatar

@lucillelucillelucille the UAW sound like a menace.

Joybird's avatar

@mammal….it’s why most people would agree that the US is NOT a true democracy. We have become an corporate aristocracy.

mammal's avatar

@Adirondackwannabe aren’t the owners even wealthier than the players?

CyanoticWasp's avatar

We’re the richest country in the world (even now). What do we need to strike for?

Despite all of the gnashing of teeth and sackcloth and ashes (which I haven’t actually seen on the streets yet, and I do go about on the streets, after all—and I haven’t seen any hair shirts, come to think of it) ... we’re really not starving, not chained to our jobs (or our homes) and we have enough money, apparently, to keep everyone’s cell phone bill paid and the cable on to the HDTV.

So what do we need to strike for?

Oh, sure, there are all those WalMart workers who someone wants to “ban together”, but for people who speak only one language not to understand the difference between “banding” and “banning” ... well, it sounds like they should count their lucky stars that even WalMart will have them.

Or maybe I’m just being a bitter old man again today.

Yeah… baseball players with a minimum salary of around $2 million per annum have real grievances. (Though the minor league players might have a legitimate bone to pick. But still, professional athletics are chosen professions that only a select few have the skills to even dream of joining. They could always get a job at WalMart.)

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

@mammal Yes, and it’s their enormous egos that lead them to pay the ridiculous salaries and then they stage a lockout to control their costs. If you can figure it out you’re one up on me.

ChocolateReigns's avatar

In my state, earlier this year, a nurses union went on strike, causing a lot of the hospitals to be extremely understaffed for 24 hours. I was really hoping I didn’t have a bad asthma attack or get into a car crash that day. Then they didn’t get what they wanted, so they had an unlimited strike planned, but that scared the employers into giving them the money.

WestRiverrat's avatar

@JustmeAman I did, at least at the big league level. I now go to minor league or college games and actually have a little money left over after leaving the ballpark.

flutherother's avatar

I may be wrong but I don’t think Americans experienced the terrible working conditions that came with industrialisation to the same extent as Europeans. Factories were extremely dangerous places, working hours were long and holidays unheard of. Children were put to work at an early age and the workforce were treated with the contempt usually reserved for slaves while the factory owners made vast profits. It was only by banding together and forming trade unions that people could force an improvement in their working lives to the ultimate benefit of us all.

Nowadays there is legislation to protect workers and unions have lost their power. The need for them is not as great as it once was, however there is no guarantee that the bad old days will not return.

flo's avatar

It must happen, but we sure rarely hear about them.

lillycoyote's avatar

Yes, but the unions here aren’t as strong as they once were and not as strong as in Canada and many European countries.

And some the strikes and actions of labor unions here are sometimes on much smaller scale. Not the massive actions you see in Europe.

@flutherother Yes, Americans certainly did experience terrible working conditions during and after the Industrial Revolution, with industrialization. It might be interesting for you to look into a little American labor history and the history of labor unions in the U.S. It’s not only interesting but is a good way to not take for granted some of the things about the world of that many of us do take for granted. That’s the effect that learning some labor history had on me, at least.

flutherother's avatar

@lillycoyote Americans have a different attitude to unions than the British and especially the Scots. Trade Unionism for us was a fight for freedom, whereas I think most Americans are suspicious and hostile towards unions. Things have changed even in my lifetime and union power has declined drastically. I am concerned that companies will take advantage of this and return us to the bad old days. I can see it happening in small ways already, despite the protection of legislation.

The_Idler's avatar

It has happened. @flutherother

I’ve worked in places where 95% of the workforce was agency. Just so they can have workers with no rights, that they can get rid of whenever they like. Same reason we’ve had unlimited immigration of unskilled labourers. Labour government, my arse.

Sometimes, they’d get sent home after one hour’s work. even on night shift or earlies. its a disgrace.

In fact, all the places I have worked were like that.

This country is fucked, an embarrassment to its noble former self, and a betrayal and shame on the struggles of the working heroes of our golden age.


The_Idler's avatar

@Joybird I believe the term is “Plutarchy”

Aethelwine's avatar

A strike forced the company that I worked for to shut down our plant. This was 11 years ago. Caterpillar in Peoria, Illinois has had several strikes over the past 16 years that I lived in the area. The last one was just a few years ago. Caterpillar is the world’s leading manufacturer of construction and mining equipment.

thekoukoureport's avatar

We can’t strike anymore.. the people have no power.
The corporations have us by the balls
We work longer hours with more responsibility
And we took out massive student loans to do so
Unions? Shadows of their former self
As politics reign supreme
Mine explosions, oil rig explosions, refinery explosions, let the workers burn.
Regulation hurts business
Free trade hurts jobs
Brother can you spare a dime? My boot straps broke trying to pull myself up.
Guess not christian conservative.
Your cup runneth over
As mine drys up.
Tax breaks will fix it all
Even though it helped create
And I will once again be forgotten.
The American citizen in this Hamiltonian society.

DocteurAville's avatar

I hear people talking about inconveniences, complaining they had a hard time because some strikers asking for a raise…

Are you happy with your cubicle job?
How is that tuition payments going?
How much did you boss bitched you this morning?
Have you made to hollywood already?

No wonder working folks turning on each others necks, while the real monster conspire to take from you all you have got. Oh, that was someone else’s problem.

How about solidarity? The gangsters respect their codes and the masses pick on each others doom. Nice work.

The_Idler's avatar

You can see individualism is the ideology that sterilizes the power of the masses, and so allows them to be subjugated soundlessly by the Establishment. All, according to plan.

JustmeAman's avatar

It has become rediculous that the sports people want so much. I wish we could stop them dead in their tracks…

dealrrr's avatar

americans are complacent and lucky to have work at all because of it.

Joybird's avatar

@The_Idler Well so it is! I’ve learned a new vocabulary word today. Thanks.
Plutocracy is rule by the wealthy, or power provided by wealth. The combination of both plutocracy and oligarchy is called plutarchy.

mammal's avatar

@Joybird Plutocracy hasn’t quite gained pejorative status yet, maybe it has something to do with the Disney character

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