Labor Day

More workers striking in 2023 than the previous three decades

Experts say the pandemic was a turning point that led many workers to demand more for their rights.

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Labor Day is not just a three-day weekend, but a holiday that honors the workers for their contribution to our economy.

According to this year’s annual labor report, over 270,000 California workers have joined the picket lines since January of this year.

Across the country, more workers have participated in striking for their rights in 2023 than during the last three decades.

Experts say the pandemic was a turning point that led many workers to demand more for their rights.

“Whether it’s pilots at Southwest, or whether it’s a janitor at the airport, get on the picket line together and support one another has been amazing. I think something that we haven’t seen in decades in this country,” Gonzalez with the said.

For more than a century, the Labor Movement has transformed labor practices in the United States, but in recent years, more and more workers across different industries have unionized to gain collective power.

They’re not just asking for better wages, but better benefits and treatment.

Low staffing and low pay are pushing many of San Diego County's healthcare workers out of the field, NBC 7's Priya Sridhar reports.

“We know when workers come together and collectively bargain for wages and working conditions that are more appropriate, that that alleviates all these burdens right,” Gonzalez said.

Lorena Gonzalez with the California Labor Federation says coming out of the pandemic corporate profits have soared, but wages for workers have remained stagnant, prompting many workers to demand more.

“The owners of corporations, the multi-billionaires, are getting wealthier and wealthier and yet we’re having a harder and harder time even being housed and putting food on the table – there’s something wrong with this system and people are looking to unions to fix it,” Gonzalez said.

Vice Chair Tara Lawson-Remer said a healthy labor movement is needed to stimulate the economy.

“What people don’t understand is if we don’t have a strong labor movement, we don’t have a strong economy because when we pay people fairly, then they can afford to hire a baby-sitter, or go out to eat, or buy a new television and that in turn creates more jobs and more prosperity and more wealth,” Lawson-Remer said.

Gonzalez said the pandemic shifted the playing field for many workers, allowing them to gain leverage and demand more for their rights.

“We saw coming out of COVID when a lot of workers said, I’m not going to work for those wages, that companies and corporations were desperate, right. They were like, oh my gosh, where are the workers? What happened to the workers? Well, pay them more, do better and you’ll have people willing to work,” Gonzalez said.

She added that going into the fall we can expect more industries demanding a good contract.

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