Why the U.S. is seeing a wave of worker strikes across the country

Yahoo Finance’s Dani Romero to break down the worker strikes taking place across the nation.

Video Transcript

JARED BLIKRE: Welcome back. They are calling it Striketober. Kellogg, John Deere, and even nurses are among the thousands on strike or about to strike and only in the next couple of days, pushing for better pay and improving working conditions. And these are strikes that are affecting potentially all of us. For more on this, we want to bring in Yahoo Finance's Dani Romero. And Dani, I believe 10,000 John Deere workers just went on strike. What's behind what seems to be kind of a nascent trend here?

DANI ROMERO: Well, after 19 months, these workers have been working on the front line, so most of these low wage workers say that they've had enough. They are demanding higher pay, as well as rest and meal breaks, also better benefits, also shorter shifts. And so this so-called wave that we're seeing is not only we're seeing it from the health care spectrum and also from Hollywood. Now, the Hollywood strike did get averted, and after a deal was made between the union and the studios, but this also signals this movement that has been a long time coming.

And so nearly 100,000 US workers are either going to strike or are preparing to strike to improve working conditions. Now the big one we're going to see is about 35,000 members from the nursing union here in California say that they are preparing to strike. About 36%-- excuse me-- 96% of them say that they are in favor. They're going to issue a 10-day warning. They are striking against the two-tier pay system, which they say lowers pay to entry level nurses, midwives, pharmacists, down by 25% to 39%. And they say after the pandemic, that is really unfair to them.

And according to new data from Cornell Labor Action Tracker, it shows that 180 strikes are documented so far this year. And that includes 24,000 workers. Now, I did speak with the PhD student that says these labor actions-- who's tracking these labor actions-- says that 39 strikes are recorded as of October this month. That's the highest they've seen.

However, according to the Labor Department, they've only recorded about 12 strikes because they only record labor stoppages that include 1,000 or more workers. So these sheer numbers are a little bit confusing, but again, this movement is coming against the backdrop of 4.3 million workers that have walked off the job in August, which is the biggest number since 2000.

KARINA MITCHELL: Dani, I want to ask you, how does this embolden other unions and other workers? How contagious is it? Are we going to see more strikes coming down the pipeline?

DANI ROMERO: That's a really good question. And a professor I spoke with from Cornell says that she described strikes as being contagious. And we will see more until these get resolved. And so, this activism also comes at a time when labor unions are trending upwards, the approval of them. And so when low unemployment rate is at play, this gives leverage to these essential workers that have been on the front lines.

And so a September Gallup poll shows that Americans are in favor of labor unions and 68% of them say their approval of it. And while some of these strikes have obviously been resolved or averted, some only say it'll ramp up from here. That will cause some consumer impacts. Now it's still unclear when those consumers will start seeing that impact, but some say it will definitely leave a mark.

JARED BLIKRE: Dani thank you for that report here, one we're going to continue to follow at Yahoo Finance. Dani Romero.

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