Striketober surges across country

The Great Resignation has workers fight for their rights en masse


Striking workers at the Kellogg’s plant in Battle Creek, Michigan. Photo by Alyssa Keown for Associated Press

Ella Whalen, Staff Writer

The seeming increase in strikes across the country is no illusion. The recent rise in efforts from unions, in industries from film in Hollywood to farm machinery in John Deere to cereal in Kellogg’s, have been a part of a larger phenomenon known by economists as “The Great Resignation,” a sweeping reevaluation of careers due to the pandemic.

Several factors stemming from the pandemic have started this phenomenon, the most obvious of which being the death toll limiting the availability of workers, especially those in “essential” jobs. The temporary changing of work conditions, such as working at home, for those in more office-based jobs has caused many employees to reconsider the conditions they put up with before the pandemic, as well as consider trying to improve them. So too has the economic ending of the pandemic contributed to the Great Resignation, causing a spike in demand that a lot of companies aren’t prepared for. All of these have made unions more important in recent times and encouraged them to make negotiations.

Beyond simply working conditions, unions also have grievances with low pay failing to match neither rising profits nor inflation; while the average worker in the country had a 4% raise over the last year according to the St. Louis Federal Reserve, inflation grew by 5.4% over the year, meaning over half of workers nationwide are making less money relative to last year. Individual workers have also been frequently quitting their jobs for the same reason—4.3 million in August alone, according to the Washington Post.

Consumer solidarity with striking workers varies from strike to strike: some unions call for boycotts to reduce the negotiating company’s total revenue, some do not want one to happen to increase the pressure of demand. For instance, while the Nabisco strikers of weeks past (which I previously reported on) were calling for a boycott, those at Kellogg’s currently are explicitly against one. In general, look into what unions are striking at the moment and what they want consumers to do to stand with them; donating to the strike fund, which serves to pay the striking workers so they don’t have to resume work to survive, is usually a safe bet, and many of them can be accessed online.