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From Detroit Three to healthcare, US labor unions flex muscle



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Adds details on strike actions in media, auto, consumer and healthcare sectors

By Mrinalika Roy

Nov 16 (Reuters) -A tight U.S. labor market, the expiry of union contracts and high living costs have led to tough negotiations for pay hikes and benefits, triggering strikes and protests across industries.

Nearly 444,900 workers have been involved in work stoppages and strikes through October this year, according to preliminary data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, putting 2023 on track to becoming the busiest year for strikes since 2018.


Here are some sectors and companies that faced tough negotiations in 2023:


MEDIA

Members of the Writers Guild of America (WGA) approved a new three-year contract with major studios on Oct. 9. Film and television writers had walked off the job in May over compensation, staffing and residual payments, among other issues. They returned to work on Sept. 27 after negotiators reached a tentative agreement.


Hollywood actors reached a tentative agreement with major studios on Nov. 8 to resolve the second of two strikes that rocked the entertainment industry as writers and performers demanded higher pay in the streaming TV era.

Valued at more than $1 billion, the three-year contract includes increases in minimum salaries and a new bonus paid by streaming services, the union said.


AUTOMOTIVE

General Motors GM.N and the United Auto Workers (UAW) ratified a wage deal on Nov. 16, making GM workers the first of those at the Detroit Three automakers to approve the agreement.


In October, the union reached tentative agreements with GM, Ford F.N and Chrysler-owner Stellantis STLAM.MI, handing significant victories for auto workers after years of stagnant wages and painful concessions following the 2008 financial crisis.


The UAW said on Nov. 15 that about 3,900 of its members working at Mack Trucks ratified a new five-year contract, ending a month-long strike at the Volvo Group VOLVb.ST-owned company.


PARCEL DELIVERY

Teamsters union workers at United Parcel Service UPS.N ratified a new five-year contract in August, a deal that raises pay, eliminates a two-tier wage system for drivers, provides another paid holiday and ends forced overtime.


FedEx FDX.N pilots have been involved in a standoff with the parcel delivery firm over wages and legacy pensions. Pilots rejected a tentative deal in July and negotiations are ongoing.


AIRLINES & AEROSPACE FIRMS

Pilots at several airlines including American Airlines AAL.O, Delta Air Lines DAL.N, United Airlines Holdings UAL.O, Spirit Airlines SAVE.N and Jetblue Airways JBLU.O negotiated new job contracts this year.


Members of some unions like the Southwest Airlines Pilots Association have voted to authorize a strike if a new contract is not reached.


Spirit AeroSystems SPR.N negotiated a new contract to end a strike that led to a week-long work stoppage at its plant in Wichita, Kansas.


MANUFACTURING

U.S. steel producer Cleveland-Cliffs CLF.N has reached a tentative agreement with the United Steelworkers union on a new three-year labor agreement for its Northshore mining operations.


U.S. Steel X.N, which is reviewing multiple proposals ranging from partial acquisition to an entire buyout, is embroiled in a tussle with the United Steelworkers union. The company's unionized workers say they essentially have the power to veto any transaction they do not approve of.


CONSUMER & RETAIL

In Las Vegas, thousands of workers reached agreements with casino operators and resorts Caesars Entertainment CZR.O, MGM Resorts MGM.N and Wynn Resorts WYNN.O in November to avoid strikes that could have crippled tourism in the city.


Thousands of hospitality workers in Detroit walked off the job on Oct. 17 after unions called for strikes at three casinos - MGM Grand Detroit, operated by MGM Resorts; Hollywood Casino at Greektown, operated by Penn Entertainment PENN.O; and MotorCity Casino.

The Detroit Casino Council called the first strike in its history after negotiations that had begun in the summer did not yield a new contract.


More than 3,000 workers at more than 150 Starbucks SBUX.O stores in the U.S. held strikes in June, following claims the company had banned Pride Month decorations at some of its cafes. nL4N38F1SO

Workers at hundreds of Starbucks stores walked off their jobs during a key promotional event on Nov. 16, demanding improved staffing and schedules.


Thousands of Los Angeles-area hotel staffers went on a three-day strike in July over improved wages, benefits and working conditions. Union leaders representing the workers have threatened further walkouts.


HEALTHCARE

Kaiser Permanente's healthcare workers voted to ratify a new contract with the hospital chain on Nov. 9, ending a months-long negotiation that resulted in the largest recorded strike in the U.S. medical sector.

More than 7,000 nurses went on a three-day strike in New York City over staffing levels and pay hikes in January.


Workers at CVS Health CVS.N and Walgreens Boots Alliance WBA.O announced a three-day walkout from Oct. 30, dubbed "Pharmageddon", to improve working conditions and add more staff.


CANNABIS

Unions representing cannabis workers have also increased pressure on companies in the sector this year.


Workers at Green Thumb Industries' GTII.CD Chicago-area RISE dispensaries went on a 13-day unfair labor practices (ULP) strike in April, which was the longest ULP strike at a cannabis retailer in U.S. history.


Labor unions secured new contract agreements at multistate operator-owned cannabis dispensaries in Illinois and in New Jersey in July.


ENERGY

Unionized workers at Phillips 66's PSX.N refinery in Roxana, Illinois, ratified a contract with the refiner in late-stage negotiations, averting a potential strike.


The union had been in talks with the refiner since summer, when it rejected a company proposal and sought additional benefits for holiday and vacation hours and pay, among other improvements.


Work Stoppages in U.S. https://tmsnrt.rs/48n57So


Reporting by Mrinalika Roy in Bengaluru; Editing by Sriraj Kalluvila, Eileen Soreng, Pooja Desai and Shounak Dasgupta

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