Nationwide strikes are changing horrific worker conditions and low wages

in August 9th, 2021

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There have been more labor strikes this year than any year in the past decade. Most recently in Kansas, 600 Frito-Lay workers are celebrating after a nearly three week strike demanding an end to long hours, forced overtime, and stagnant wages. The worst offense of all was what some call “suicide” shifts, when employees start another shift only eight hours after ending one, leaving no time for family, errands, or even a proper night’s sleep. Their new contract puts an end to these shifts, increases wages by 4%, and mandates at least one day off a week.

Similar wins are playing out across the country.

  • In Illinois, 2,500 service employees are hopeful after an 18-day strike and ten months of negotiations, marking the longest public sector strike in Chicago’s recent history.
  • After workers across 15 cities in May went on strike for better pay, McDonald’s raised their minimum wage to $15 an hour.
  • New York’s excluded workers (those left out from federal benefits during the pandemic) went on a hunger strike for three weeks in April. This resulted in the state creating a $2.1 billion assistance fund for those workers.

Despite this progress, the U.S. as a whole is still behind in fair labor practices. A study from 2007 found that even when the stock market was strong and CEO compensation grew rapidly, hourly wage employees weren’t earning more despite working the equivalent of over a month more per year. In fact, wealth grew for the top 1% while dropping for 60% of American households. Today’s $7.25 federal minimum wage has not been raised in over 10 years. The Action Network currently has an active petition calling on Congress, state legislators, and city councils to raise the federal minimum wage to $15. 

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