Despite an overall fall in union membership, labour unions and organisers feel more empowered as a result of the tight labour market, utilising worker shortages to win fresh ground in major firms.
While Amazon warehouse workers and Starbucks baristas made headlines for unionising early on, the established big guns are threatening statewide strikes, which may devastate the already-fragile supply chain and the larger economy.
The most immediate threat may be only a day away. Major rail unions have threatened to strike if train corporations do not agree to their demands for better working conditions by Friday midnight.
According to the Association of American Railroads (AAR), a shutdown would be catastrophic for the economy, costing an estimated $2 billion a day and jeopardising an already precarious supply chain while harming businesses and consumers alike.
Whether a rail shutdown occurs or not, another labour dispute is building that might have a negative impact on the economy.
The Teamsters have already begun unsettling the United Parcel Service with strike threats ahead of contract discussions next year.
“By August 1, 2023, our union is determined to win the best contract for UPS members and to reset the benchmarks for salaries and benefits in this business. We will not extend the talks by a single day. We’ll either have a written deal or be hitting the road that day “Teamsters president Sean O’Brien stated in a statement last month, setting off the union’s contract struggle.
According to CBS News, if workers at the world’s largest package carrier go on strike, it will be the largest walkout in American history, affecting nearly every household in the country.
Since the 1990s, neither rail workers nor UPS drivers have gone on strike. But, with Biden administration help, both are now asserting their muscles in the tight post-COVID job market.
Last year, several analysts predicted that a surge in union strikes, laws, and sweetheart deals would likely exacerbate the supply chain crisis as big labour sought to capitalise on chronic labour shortages. Labor agreements were criticised at the time for contributing to the terrible logjams that occurred at major US ports.