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Talkin’ Strikes

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I talked to Marketwatch for this story on the current strike wave.

Historically, prices don’t come back down after they’ve gone up, she added, so many companies are bringing in more money. But wages aren’t necessarily keeping up.

“You see this at company after company,” said Erik Loomis, a historian and associate professor at the University of Rhode Island who has authored books on the labor movement. “The culture of the quarterly report [to shareholders] is a huge part of this,” he added, because shareholders want to see revenue growth at all costs.

For example, Loomis said, considering their wages and working conditions, “being a UPS driver is not that great of a job anymore, while UPS makes record profits.”

That’s in line with what the Teamsters are saying after negotiations with UPS UPS, +0.19% failed in June and the drivers’ contracts are set to expire at the end of July: that drivers want their fair share after the pandemic, and the general rise in demand for shipping services was a boon for companies like UPS. The delivery giant reached $100 billion in revenue for the first time last year, and reported a record $11.3 billion annual profit.

The bottom line: Workers are “fed up,” said Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. “The broad through line is that the wealth that’s being generated is equitably shared with those who are doing the work that creates it,” he added.

Additionally, “seeing other workers in motion, taking action and organizing and striking, also builds confidence” for workers to do the same, Jacobs said.

Loomis, of the University of Rhode Island, agreed: “Strikes beget strikes,” he said.

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