Strike activity is expected to increase significantly throughout 2023.
2022 saw a resurgence of employees striking, especially when trying to organize a union.
Last year had about 380 strikes, involving more than 200,000 workers. 22 of these strikes were “major work stoppages” involving 1,000 or more workers.
By comparison, 2021 had 43% fewer major work stoppages, strikes, and strikers: 16 major work stoppages, and 265 strikes involving 140,000 workers.
2023 has already seen several strikes, including more than 7,000 nurses at two New York City hospitals and the largest strike in the history of higher education when 48,000 academic workers went on strike at the University of California.
150 major union contracts are set to expire in 2023 involving more than 1.5 million workers. Union employees are generally only permitted to strike when their contract expires. If employers do not meet union demands at the bargaining table, I expect additional, significant strikes.
More importantly, non-union employees can strike at any time (except for healthcare workers).
Non-union employers are most at risk because labor laws and strikes are not on their minds, and “they don’t know what they don’t know” about strikes.
Employers whose collective bargaining agreements expire this year or who have union organizing activity must have a detailed strike contingency plan. Detailed is key. The one I use is about 80 pages of fill-in-the-blanks that leaves no contingency behind.
Of course, all of this comes at a time when public approval for unions is at an all-time high (71%), and we have the self-proclaimed “most pro-union president ever” and the NLRB doing all it can to change the landscape of labor law to dramatically favor unions.
Matt Austin is a nationwide management labor lawyer. Labor laws govern virtually all private-sector employees regardless of union membership. Proactive management of labor relations is critical to maintaining flexibility and increasing profit.
Matt also runs Austin Legal’s HR Legal Compliance Program that, for a small monthly fee, ensures HR decisions are protected by the attorney-client privilege.
Matt’s experience is deeply rooted in helping manage many aspects of his clients’ businesses. To effectively manage labor relations, he must also manage budgets, forecasts, new growth areas, and projected market corrections. High emotional intelligence is also critical to negotiating union contracts and to properly advise HR Legal Compliance members through the nuances of the law, its application to their companies, and how it will be received by employees.
You can reach Matt via email at Matt@MattAustinLaborLaw.com.