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‘Striketober’ explained: How workers are demanding better from employers

IATSE Strike
Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 19, 2021

This month is being dubbed as “striketober” as thousands of workers across the country go on strike for better wages, benefits, and even just basic quality of life issues.

On Saturday, Hollywood union workers reached a deal, averting a strike, at least for now. Workers wanted basic rights, like meal breaks and time off on the weekends.

The International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees was able to reach a deal that better guarantees meal breaks and breaks between shifts and on weekends.

However, this isn't a done deal. Workers still need to vote, and the union says the deal still does not do enough to address their concerns. A ratification vote is expected within a couple of weeks.

These strikes may all be happening now, but experts say they've been brewing for a while. The pandemic helped kick things into high gear.

“They not only risk their lives, they risk their families, and in many sectors, they were forced to work whether they wanted to or not. And they’ve been working longer hours, productivity is an all-time high, and it is never-ending,” said Kate L. Bronfenbrenner, Director of Labor Education Research at Cornell University.

This deal in Hollywood has shown that workers have leverage and this translates over into other industries where we're seeing supply shortages, all while companies are desperate for workers.

“They don’t have to compete with workers in central China, they don’t have to worry about another supply chain ending, and they don’t have to worry about other workers crossing their picket line to take their job,” said Michael Leroy, a professor at the University of Illinois - Urbana-Champaign.

However, it doesn’t mean that workers have all the power right now. Not striking a deal means they'll lose out on wages and benefits, which does add some pressure to come to an agreement, even if it doesn't guarantee everything they're calling for.