Workers this spring were forced to find new ways to assert their rights when faced with a deadly foe and employers indifferent to their lives.
Sometimes they resorted to the oldest trick in labor's book, the strike, especially wildcat strikes early on in the pandemic, and especially non-union workers. Sometimes they were forced to organize and protest virtually, making the most of social media. And the car caravan was reborn as an appropriately distanced tactic.
Direct action gets the goods. If your employer is still not acting like workers’ lives matter, take a page from union members who are putting muscle behind their bargaining—they're shutting the place down first.
The GM strike jumped off suddenly September 16. At the start, it wasn't clear what the bargainers were going for—including to members themselves. Since then, judging by dozens of interviews on the picket lines, a remarkable consensus has developed among the Auto Workers rank and file: their top priority is wage equality, for second-tier workers and especially for the misnamed “temps.” Temps may work for years doing the same work as Tier 1 and Tier 2 workers, but with low pay and almost no rights.
General Motors workers have been on the picket lines for 17 days now, and just picked up their first weekly strike pay of $250. Strikers wonder who will hold out the longest—a workforce seeking justice or an immensely profitable corporation demanding more concessions?