Strike-Mania Sweeps The Nation

In industries across America, workers are engaging in large-scale strikes.

Written by Anthony Constantini

What’s happening: Last week, 75,000 Kaiser Permanente health care workers went on strike — marking the largest health care strike in American history. This comes amid a wave of massive strikes across the country that also includes Hollywood writers, actors, and automotive workers.

Why they are striking: While the industries vary tremendously, all of the major strikes are, at their core, a response to technological changes.

  • AI and streaming: The Hollywood strikes were over AI imagery and streaming services, two issues that are only likely to grow as both technologies develop.

  • Electric vehicles: Cars with electric batteries require fewer parts than those with more complex gas-fueled engines, which means they require fewer workers. President Joe Biden’s subsidies for this industry have expedited the shift and created friction with the striking union members. The striking auto workers are demanding a 40 percent pay raise and trying to keep their jobs, large asks given the circumstances.

  • Work from home: Healthcare workers feel understaffed due to an increasingly large aging population and a lack of nursing studentsStrikers are also complaining that Kaiser requires some work-from-home staffers to switch to in-office work with only two weeks’ notice.

The big picture: It’s not just technology changes; the state of the economy and sharp decrease in worker incomes add to the problem. For the third consecutive year, incomes across the U.S. have fallen, decreasing purchasing power and increasing hardships. And while inflation isn’t growing as fast as it was before, consumer prices still haven’t come down.

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