COMP NEWS – Nearly a million unionized Americans received double-digit pay raises in 2023 after a year of surging union activity, negotiations, and strikes.
Nearly 900,000 Americans sitting down to Thanksgiving dinner this week will have unions – and the double-digit pay increases they won – to thank.
That’s how many unionized workers have won immediate pay hikes of 10% or more in just the last year, according to an analysis by CNN.
And the pace of increases of that size have been picking up. More than 700,000 of those workers won pay hikes over the course of the last six months, and of that group, nearly 300,000 saw deals reached in just the last six weeks.
“I would say this is the best run of wage increases won by labor since the period right after the end of World War II,” said Art Wheaton, director of labor studies at Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Buffalo.
Some of the deals arrived at the end of high-profile strikes, such as the United Auto Workers union strike against General Motors, Ford and Stellantis, which lasted more than six weeks, or one by 75,000 health care workers at Kaiser Permanente, who waged the largest US health care strike ever over just three days in October.
Many of the pay raises workers have seen came on the heels of a threatened strike, such as the Teamsters union at UPS.
Other deals happened because of the threat of a strike without the workers having to hit the picket lines. They include a deal covering 340,000 members of the Teamsters union at UPS or a series of deals reached by the Culinary union that prevented strikes at 18 different casinos along the Las Vegas Strip.
Many of the other lower-profile deals came in the airline industry, which operates under a different labor law than the one that controls most US labor relations, and greatly limits their ability to go on strike.
Without a strike threat, the negotiations got comparatively little public attention. But thanks to highly skilled work, wage gains at airlines have been substantial. Pilots at American and United airlines each won immediate pay increases of more than 20%, and more than 40% over the life of their contracts. Flight attendants at Southwest also won immediate wage increases of more than 20%.
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