Strikes plumb the depths

Although there have been plenty of reports of rising labor militancy in the US—teachers’ strikes, tech and delivery app organizing—it’s sadly not showing up in the strike data. In its annual release, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that there were just 7 major “work stoppages” (which include lockouts as well as strikes) in 2020, tied with 2017 for the second-lowest number since 1947, and beaten only by 2009’s 5. What strike action there was, says the BLS, was mainly against state and local government employers (5 of them), not private… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): January 7, 2021 Vijoo Krishnan on the Indian farmer strikes • Yannet Lathrop, author of this report, on state and local minimum wage increases • Alex Peterson on the Alphabet Workers Union

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): June 4, 2020 Alex Vitale, author of The End of Policing, on why cops are being so brutal and what should be done with them • Ben Tarnoff, co-founder of Logic magazine, on tech worker organizing (essay here)

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): April 2, 2020 Dania Rajendra of Athena on the walkouts at Amazon • Lauren Kaori Gurley on the walkouts at Whole Foods and Instacart • J.W. Mason on the World War II economic mobilization as a model for a Green New Deal

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): April 19, 2018 Kate Doyle Griffiths on teachers’ strikes and the crisis in social reproduction • Thea Riofrancos and Daniel Denvir on Yascha Mounck and liberal derangement syndrome

Fresh audio product

Just added to my radio archive (click on date for link): March 22, 2018 Jennifer Berkshire, host of Have You Heard?, on teachers’ strikes, WV and beyond • Stan Collender on fiscal follies in DC

Smaller strikes also in decline

Several readers responded to the recent post on strikes by asking if the BLS stats, which cover stoppages involving 1,000 or more workers, are missing smaller-scale actions. (And I should say that I’m being imprecise by calling all stoppages “strikes,” since the figures also include lockouts.) Alas, no. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service publishes data on all work stoppages, regardless of the number of workers involved. The numbers from 1984 through 2016 are graphed below. Smaller strikes peaked at 1,142 in 1985, which looks big by recent standards. If the trajectory… Read More

Fresh audio product

Just posted to my radio archives: May 9, 2013 Corey Robin, political scientist at Brooklyn College and author of The Reactionary Mind, on how the right thinks (with additional discussion of this essay on Nietzsche, Hayek, etc.) May 2, 2013 Mark Blyth, author of Austerity: The History of a Dangerous Idea, on just that April 25, 2013 Alex Vitale on the militarization of police forces • Josh Eidelson on spreading worker actions against Walmart and fast food

Strike wave!

There are many ways to measure the death of organized labor as a social force in the U.S. Here’s what might be the most objective one: the virtual disappearance of labor’s ultimate weapon, the strike. The graph above shows the annual number of major strikes, as tallied by the Bureau of Labor Statistics. (The front page for all their strike/lockout stats is here: Work Stoppages Home Page.) The figure for 2010 annualizes what we’ve experienced so far this year. The little uptick, from a total of 5 in 2009 to 20 in 2010,… Read More

Radio commentary, December 11, 2008

How long a recession? Summers talks nonsense. A rebirth of worker militance?