Strike escalation poses political test for Biden

Many union workers from Hollywood to the Midwest were encouraged by the President Bidenbrag about it heThe most pro-union president in decades has gone on strike or threatened to quit.

More than 100,000 people are on the lookout, and by the end of October, tens of thousands more could join them, potentially sparking a wave of strikes not seen in the United States since the 1970s.

Unrest in industries, including agriculture and filmmaking, threatens to further undermine an economy ravaged by rising inflation.

It also constitutes a political test for Mr. Bidenwho doesn’t want to take risks her There is support among Labor leaders, but it needs to contain rising prices before next year’s midterm elections.

“These strikes will have an impact,” said Paul Clark, professor of labor studies at Penn State University. “When employers raise wages, they raise prices to get back what they paid with higher labor costs, so we’re going to see some of that.”

On Thursday, more than 10,000 workers at farm equipment maker Deere & Co. went on strike. They joined 1,400 workers at Kellogg Co., more than 2,000 nurses and other hospital workers in Buffalo, New York, 700 nurses in Massachusetts, and approximately 160 caregivers in Connecticut.

Nearly 24,000 nurses and other health workers at Kaiser Permanente went on strike this week, and 60,000 workers in the entertainment industry threatened to leave work Monday if their union didn’t reach an agreement with the television and film studios.

More than 12,000 carpenters from the Seattle area returned to work this week after a three-week strike that halted construction in the Pacific Northwest.

As union membership decreased, the number of layoffs decreased in recent years. Only eight strikes in 2020 involving more than 1,000 workers, the lowest number since 1947, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Since 2010, more than 20 such strikes have occurred in 2019 alone. According to the bureau, there were fewer than 30 major strikes in 1997 alone from 1980 to 2000.

Unions primarily cite systemic problems such as low wages, longer working hours, poor working conditions and safety concerns as reasons for strikes.

But more recent events, Mr. Biden‘s pro-union stance and worker shortages caused by the COVID-19 shutdowns gave labor a chance.

“Right now the stars are lining up in favor of the unions,” Mr Clark said. “Both have low unemployment and you have a very friendly administration in Washington that supports unions. It’s all for the unions to take advantage of the current situation,” he said.

Mr. Biden declared himself a cheeky labor friend.

Open her first day in office he signed an executive order ensuring the creation of union jobs her management’s first priority. in March, he He made a video promoting the right of Amazon workers to unionize. he launched her $4.7 trillion spending packages as ways to create high-paying union jobs.

“Clinton and Obama didn’t go for a walk,” Mr Clark said. “His rhetoric was pro-union, but his actions were not as supportive as labor expected. now you have Bidenwhose rhetoric is more pro-union than these presidents, and hefollowing.”

When asked about the wave of strikes, White House press secretary Jen Psaki doubled down on the president’s labor support.

“The president and vice president often say this is the most pro-union administration in history, and with that in mind, they will continue to run and run,” he said.

“They both feel [that] “Strong support for unions, the right of workers to organize if they wish, collective bargaining and the right to strike are fundamental rights,” he said.

“In healthy economies employers must compete for workers and we see that,” Ms Psaki said. “As unemployment declines, we move into a market where workers have more bargaining power. After all, that’s a good thing.”

Rejecting the notion that the strikes could derail the economy, he said he did not have this concern from the White House economic team.

Yet strikes are affecting the economy.

Since Kellogg’s workers went on strike two weeks ago, the grain producer’s stock has dropped 6.5%. Shares of Deere & Co. tumbled 7% on Thursday after its employees crossed the strike limit.

Consumers will likely feel the strain as companies raise the prices of grain and other products to offset higher labor costs.

Rising prices Mr. Biden for most her presidential. The Labor Department reported on Wednesday that consumer costs of goods and services rose 5.4% in September from a year earlier.

Inflation remains at its highest in more than a decade, and labor and material shortages due to the pandemic are wreaking havoc on the economy.

The Biden administration has argued that inflation is a temporary effect of the pandemic recovery, but the Labor Department’s report underlines this claim.

Mark Mix, head of the National Foundation for the Legal Defense of the Right to Work, a conservative anti-union advocacy group, said inflation was a factor in worker unrest. He noted that workers wanted higher wages to offset the rising costs.

“When a mom goes to the store and sees that a box of cereal is $5, she will charge more,” she said. “The price pull of inflation is something that is very much in play in the market.”

If the strikes cause prices for goods such as grain and farm equipment to rise, Mr. Biden will have a more challenging economic environment to navigate. National surveys and focus groups have found that many Americans are worried about inflation and rising costs.

“These costs will come to market,” said Mr Mix. “It creates a very difficult political position: Risk the wrath of union officials or put potential voters at risk as we enter a crucial interim year.”

Biden administration officials also downplayed the political impact of inflation.

Ms Psaki said Wednesday that the time frame of inflation figures did not match real-world perceptions.

“We all know that the American public didn’t look at cost-to-cost comparisons until two years ago this year; they look at cost-to-cost comparisons with checkbooks eight months or 12 months ago. And indeed, if you look back two years, everything can be comparative. “People don’t look at things that way,” he said.

Also Wednesday, White House Chief of Staff Ron Klain gave an approving retweet to a Harvard professor who downplayed inflation as a “high-class” problem.

“Many of the economic problems we face (inflation, supply chains, etc.) are high-level problems. If the unemployment rate were still 10 percent, we wouldn’t have these,” wrote Jason Furman, chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers.

Despite its impact on rising prices, analysts Mr. Biden will be involved in labor disputes.

The president won’t want to risk spoiling her engaging with unions by doing something other than supporting striking workers.

Labor historian Jon Shelton at the University of Wisconsin at Green Bay, Mr. Biden likely not to encourage workers or criticize employers.

“I think there’s a political risk to getting involved” he said. “It is not common for a president to be involved. I’m waiting Mr. Biden will maintain a hands-on approach while stating that in general he supports workers.”

Sign up for Daily Newsletters

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *